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senate Bill S. 395

Should There be Stricter Limits on the Collection of Individuals’ Geolocation Info?

Argument in favor

A person’s geolocation information is deeply personal and there is great potential for its misuse. It needs to be clear that agencies can only obtain a person’s geolocation data with a warrant, and this bill accomplishes that.

Absolutely you must get a warrant before you get to know anything about anyone. You don't get to track anything and everything you want "just in case, oh but we promise not to use it unless we think we really need to." Get a warrant. A real one. Probable cause, not just government need.
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Argument opposed

Existing protections against the collection and misuse of a person’s geolocation information are enough and this bill doesn’t add value. The government can be relied upon to get a warrant before surveilling anyone.

Paul's Opinion
There is no federal power issued in the Constitution to do this.

What is Senate Bill S. 395?

This bill would impose limits on the collection of a person’s geolocation information by law enforcement agencies, other persons, and companies. It would make it illegal to intercept and disclose geolocation information unless the person consents to it or the collection is authorized by a warrant or under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), or other specified exceptions are met. Additionally, it would impose penalties on those who are found to have violated the law which include a fine, up to five years imprisonment, or both.

There would be several exceptions granted — for collections by service providers that are required to deliver their services, to combat theft or fraud, and for emergency services. A parent or guardian would also be authorized to intercept geolocation information related to their child or provide consent for that information to be gathered.


People whose use of personal devices generates collectable geolocation data; individuals, companies, and agencies that collect geolocation data.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 395

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced this bill to create clear rules for when agencies can access and track an individual’s geolocation information to prevent its misuse in an age when government agencies’ access to high-end surveillance technology has increased:

“Outdated laws shouldn’t be an excuse for open season on tracking Americans, and owning a smartphone or fitness tracker shouldn’t give the government a blank check to track your movements. Law-enforcement should be able to use GPS data, but they need to get a warrant. This bill sets out clear rules to make sure our laws keep up with the times.”

While this legislation doesn’t currently have any cosponsors in the Senate, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced a companion bill in the House which has seven bipartisan cosponsors.


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: HawaiianMama / Creative Commons)


Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act

Official Title

A bill 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 house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedFebruary 15th, 2017