Official Geolocation Privacy Bill Introduced: Say No To Unauthorized GPS Tracking

from the don't-track-me,-bro dept

Last week, we wrote about the plan by Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Jason Chaffetz to simultaneously introduce bills in both houses of Congress to outlaw location tracking without consent. Those bills have now been officially introduced. The bill is mainly targeted at law enforcement officials who feel they can put GPS devices on cars without first getting a warrant (and the many courts that have backed them up on this). It appears that if this bill becomes law, law enforcement will have to (gasp!) actually get warrants to do GPS tracking.

The bill also does focus on private collection of geolocation data -- and I had initially been a bit worried about that, since there are many cases where that might be reasonable (work related, or when someone purposely allows such info sharing, via services like Google Latitude). However, it looks like the bill has put exceptions in place for such situations. I'm not sure I understand the wisdom of a blanket statement and then exceptions, rather than specifically carving out what's banned, but perhaps it makes sense. Others have pointed out that it would be nice if the bill included reporting on stats concerning how often the government accesses geolocation data, and I agree that would be useful. One reason why people don't think too much about this is they don't realize how frequently the government uses the power to get location data.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 9:54pm

    While the (anti) 'patriot' act had little problems passing with little to no scrutiny, how much difficulty do you think this bill will have (and scrutiny do you think it will receive) before it passes, if it even passes.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 9:55pm

    Re:

    Heck, by the time it passes it will probably be watered down to allow for even easier unwarranted searches and seizures than before the bill was passed ;)

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    Mike, I'm confused. You say it's Ron Wyden, but the other news I read said it's Al Franken's bill.

    Which is it?
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/57062.html

     

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    slander (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 12:46am

    Re:

    Well, if final revision of the bill contains provisions for warrantless tracking by Big Media, then you can be assured that Franken was involved.

     

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    Tor (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 12:54am

    Geotracking in the EU

    It's interesting to compare this to the situation in EU. Due to the data retention directive the governments here plan to (or have already begun to) essentially geotrack the entire population.

    In most cases (at least for now) I don't think the data is real-time accessible, but still...

     

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  6.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 2:46am

    Re:

    Mike, I'm confused. You say it's Ron Wyden, but the other news I read said it's Al Franken's bill.


    That appears to be a different, but similar bill.

     

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  7.  
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    A Guy, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 5:35am

    Anyone else think this is what the stink he raised about the Patriot Act was about? Perhaps the "business records" referred to the tower location and signal strength of all our mobile phones signal. Just speculation, but it makes sense...

     

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    iBelieve, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    If this law passes, Law Enforcement will be forced to use some pretty unsavory methods at their disposal to acquire evidence to ~get those warrants. Sneaking around like Navy Seals at night, eating donuts and doing dirty deeds, creating a completely new wave of TV shows will be the next Really Big Thing. "Get That Warrant", on the Travel Channel, sponsored by Dupont, "We're bringing you the chemicals in your face you can live with".. AND by Smith & Wesson, "Don't Mess with US". The word 'privacy' will be officially omitted from ALL dictionaries in the very near future 'Under Penalty of Law' sort of like China's 'protest squashing' and Tuscany's gafildafish fights.

     

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    RandDCzarLA (profile), Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:20am

    How would this affect mobile localization services?

    I would be interested in seeing if and how this ruling would affect geo-location services used by businesses and coupon-type sites (Groupon,et all) determining a users location for sending incentive-related marketing texts to mobile users when in proximity to a store attempting to attract customers.

     

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    iBelieve, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:25am

    Re: How would this affect mobile localization services?

    This is very closely related to those subliminal messages advertisers used to flash on the TVs in the 60s and 70s and get everyone up to the refrigerator to get that soda drink or cigarette until it was outlawed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Nice details, Wyden

    I like both his Q&A and his section by section discussion of the bill he and Chaffetz wrote. It's makes you think that he actually assumes his constituents have brains.

    Most legislator's articles about a piece of legislation read more like a pep rally.

     

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    iBelieve, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re:

    I can't believe that AL Franken has sold us out to big Media, has he? I used to see him begging for money on SNL..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Bill Numbers

    FYI - the bill numbers are:
    HR 2168
    S. 1212

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 8:26pm

    Wake up, United States of America. You live in a Police State!

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re:

    It's nice to see that Franken is the one in the media spotlight and I don't hear about Wyden unless it's on techdirt.
    Now, where's that sarcasm tag...

    Thanks for the reply Mike.

     

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