Georgia legislators have introduced bill to require a search warrant for access to location information on electronic devices.
Georgia state representatives John Pezold and Scot Turner introduced House Bill 699 to narrow the circumstances when location information is allowed to be accessed by the state.
The bill states in part:
A government entity, including any individual acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of such entity, shall not obtain location information without a search warrant issued by a duly authorized court.
The exceptions include a life-threatening emergency and several instances where the owner of the device asks for or gives approval for it.The bill includes Civil Penalties for those in government who violate it. It also includes a provision that will disallow evidence in violation of the bill to be used in court:
Any evidence obtained in violation of this Code section shall not be admissible in a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding and shall not be used in an affidavit of probable cause to support a search warrant, unless the criteria in subsection (c) of this Code section are met.
The bill would also presumably prohibit state agencies from “obtaining” location data illegally gathered without a warrant from another government entity. That means the state could not use information gathered by the NSA and then shared with Georgia law enforcement without a warrant.
As Reuters reported in August, 2013, the secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.” Documents obtained by Reuters show that these cases “rarely involve national security issues,” and that local law enforcement is directed by SOD to “conceal how such investigations truly begin.” State and local law enforcement agencies also obtain unconstitutionally gathered data through “fusion centers.”
HB699 would not stop the NSA from gathering location information, but it would prevent prosecutors from using it as evidence in state court in Georgia.
Location data represents a specific and narrowly defined type of information. While it may not seem like that big of a deal on the surface, police can track cell phones and other mobile devices and determine where you have been. With enough pings, the officials could create a virtual map of your movements over time. Imagine how much information your movements reveal about you.
HB699 fits into one aspect of the OffNow coalition strategy to stop NSA spying through state and local action – stop states from using unconstitutionally gathered shared data. Although the bill doesn’t stop use of all data gathered by the NSA, it represents a first step and gives Georgia lawmakers something to build on.
“This bill would not only keep police in Georgia from gathering location data without a warrant, it would also keep them from using information vacuumed up by the NSA. It protects basic privacy in Georgia and strikes a blow at NSA spying that violates the Fourth Amendment,” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said.
HB699 has not been assigned to a committee.
If you live in Georgia: Contact your representative and as him or her to support HB699. You can find representative contact information HERE.
Find out more about limiting NSA spying through state and local action at OffNow.org.