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house Bill H.R. 491

Get A Warrant: Should The Police Have To Show Probable Cause Before Tracking People With GPS?

Argument in favor

Addresses Fourth Amendment controversy of police attaching GPS locators to suspects' vehicles without warrants.

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02/28/2015
Operation Cointelpro of the 1960s allowed the CIA to disregard Dr. Martin Luther King’s nonviolent manner and deem him a domestic terrorist. The CIA was advised to track and extort him. By allowing law enforcement to have the power to determine who is a criminal or in the wrong undermines the 4th Amendment. It poses a threat to any who may disagree with his or her leaders.
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vdotkelly's Opinion
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03/19/2015
Big Brother quickly turns from fiction to fact if we allow ourselves to be tracked without probable cause.
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Loraki's Opinion
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12/22/2016
Bravo, Jason Chaffetz, for voicing your concern about Big Brother's cellphone spying! I hope this bill passes! Make Big Brother GET A WARRANT before he spies on an American citizen! See Rep. Chaffetz's interview on this issue here: https://youtu.be/KTkK5WwA9dI
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Argument opposed

Would limit the flexibility and quickness of law enforcement to track potentially dangerous subjects.

Wendell's Opinion
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03/29/2015
Some people want everybody to be transparent, but them. if you're doing nothing wrong, why worry about it? Let them track me. What will they find? What have I got to be afraid of? The police track my speed when I drive down the road,. What do I care? I'm legal and safe. Besides, they are not going to waste their time tracking me unless they do have probable cause.
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Barret 's Opinion
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03/24/2015
It will put an additional burden and delay for law enforcement to catch the "bad guys."
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Philip's Opinion
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11/23/2015
make it easy for the law to track anybody anytime. if your doing nothing wrong what is the problem
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What is House Bill H.R. 491?

This bill would update the guidelines for when government agencies, commercial entities, and private citizens can access geolocation information on another person. Basically when, if ever, someone (individual or agency) can track you with GPS. 


If passed, the bill would require probable cause and a warrant before government agencies and police officials can access private geo-locational information on an person from phone companies, or other devices that can track cellphone locations. 


H.R. 491 would also ban companies that can offer geo-locational information from giving up a user's information without their consent. Plus criminal penalties would be created to punish those who secretly use electronic devices to track another person's movements.

A version of this bill has been introduced in previous sessions of Congress (in 2011 and 2013), but has always failed to make progress on the House and Senate floors. 

Impact

Anyone with a cellphone (or other electronic device) that can geo-locate, cellphone companies, law enforcement officials, and associated federal agencies.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 491

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

Of Note:

In the past, state and federal courts have sent mixed messages about when law enforcement need warrants to track people. As noted in The Hill:
"In 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police need to obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a suspect’s car. The high court did not address rules for other types of tracking, however, such as the geolocation tools in someone’s cellphone or a driving aide."

The Obama administration has also expressed skepticism over the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, "based on the belief that GPS tracking is no more invasive than visual surveillance."

 

In Depth: 

H.R. 491 outlines exceptions for when getting private tracking data would not be unlawful:

 — In response to a theft, or for tracking stolen merchandise; 

 — As a personal safety net for children, as set forth by a parent or legal guardian;

 — In cases of emergency, where someone has either personally requested assistance or is in known peril;

 — When the tracking information in question has been publicly broadcast. 


Media:

Co-sponsoring Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR) Press Release



National Journal (Previous Bill Version)


(Photo Credit: Flickr user aaronparecki

AKA

Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to specify the circumstances in which a person may acquire geolocation information and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJanuary 22nd, 2015
    Operation Cointelpro of the 1960s allowed the CIA to disregard Dr. Martin Luther King’s nonviolent manner and deem him a domestic terrorist. The CIA was advised to track and extort him. By allowing law enforcement to have the power to determine who is a criminal or in the wrong undermines the 4th Amendment. It poses a threat to any who may disagree with his or her leaders.
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    Big Brother quickly turns from fiction to fact if we allow ourselves to be tracked without probable cause.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Bravo, Jason Chaffetz, for voicing your concern about Big Brother's cellphone spying! I hope this bill passes! Make Big Brother GET A WARRANT before he spies on an American citizen! See Rep. Chaffetz's interview on this issue here: https://youtu.be/KTkK5WwA9dI
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    I voted ...YES! And the police are wrong about this being the same thing as visual monitoring. The GPS feature of my cellphone is NOT really visible. Law enforcement has to go through my phone provider to access it. That is paramount to looking through my purse, my pocket, the trunk of my car, etc...etc. To do any of these things, they must have probable cause and get a warrant. This then applies to my GPS service as well. If they can't readily SEE it and have to go through a third party to access it, then they DEFINITELY NEED A WARRANT...PERIOD!
    Like (8)
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    Privacy is a human right.
    Like (6)
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    The argument that you have nothing to fear unless you're a criminal is fine, so long as your government is perfect. Personally, I'd rather have barriers that prevent autocratic rule from happening.
    Like (6)
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    Get a Warrant? You mean the way it was before progressives appointed liberal to THE Supreme Court. Let us throw our support towards this bill.
    Like (5)
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    They need to have informed consent. Period.
    Like (5)
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    We should have are rights protected not violated
    Like (5)
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    Warrants protect the American people from potential abuses of power from law enforcement. While not always the most efficient method, requiring a warrant protects our most valued rights.
    Like (4)
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    Except in obvious emergencies, police should need a warrant for any intrusive action or violation of privacy.
    Like (3)
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    Some people want everybody to be transparent, but them. if you're doing nothing wrong, why worry about it? Let them track me. What will they find? What have I got to be afraid of? The police track my speed when I drive down the road,. What do I care? I'm legal and safe. Besides, they are not going to waste their time tracking me unless they do have probable cause.
    Like (2)
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    The widespread use of Stingray technology by law enforcement continues with no oversight. This technology is used to evesdrop on civilial cell phone conversations, in spite of concerns that its unrestricted use is unconstitutional. http://www.pcworld.com/article/3151858/security/stingray-use-could-be-unconstitutional-finds-house-report.html
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    They should have to prove probable cause for any thing , more and more you see police infringing on ou
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    It will put an additional burden and delay for law enforcement to catch the "bad guys."
    Like (2)
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    Get a FU*KING Warrant!
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    I am never in favor of slippery slopes; where do you draw the line. What might be next?
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    Prevent abuse of power
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    This comes down to basic freedom to travel.
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    Just because the founders didn't anticipate novel technological ways to track citizens doesn't mean that they would have agreed with it.
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