Story by 89 WLS web writer Kim Rasmussen
New bipartisan legislation is looking to institute a warrant requirement to track Americans with GPS data.
It is said that by the end of 2013, smart phones could account for 70 percent of all mobile phones in the U.S. Each of these devices includes built-in GPS technology collecting more personal locations than ever before.
However, the rules governing how law enforcement can gather and use the data to track individuals is unclear.
Adding to the confusion are courts applying the law inconsistently, with some courts allowing law enforcement to track people via cell phone and GPS-enabled devices.The Supreme court's ruling in the US vs. Jones tracking case in 2012 made Justices call on Congress to establish clear rules.
In order to provide clarity for the use of GPS data by law enforcement, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) have introduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act (GPS Act) in the House and Senate.
The act will require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before acquiring GPS location information of an American. It makes exceptions for cases of emergencies or national security, but will extend warrant requirements to acquisition from commercial service providers and covert government tracking devices.
"The GPS Act will modernize our outdated communications privacy laws, which were created before the Internet was even invented," Senator Kirk said. "Our bill will continue to protect citizens' 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant prior to digitally tracking your location."
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