Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the current chairman of the House Oversight Committee, took a break from accusing his constituents of being paid protesters to submit a piece of long overdue legislation for consideration.
Co-sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the “Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act,” would require law enforcement agencies to apply for and obtain a search warrant before deploying a “stingray” device, which is used to surveil a suspect’s cellphone. Stingray devices also gather information about the movements of non-suspects or criminals within proximity of the intended target.
Senator Wyden explained the need for such legislation, which is both necessary and long overdue to limit data collection by surveillance apparatuses deployed by local, state, and federal agencies.
“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.”
The bill is based on the”Stingray Best Practices” guidelines created by the DOJ last September, which stated that a warrant should be required for cell site simulator deployment The proposed bill would codify the DOJ suggested practices, making it an actual law effecting policing and surveillance at all levels of government.
It also would add a layer of protection for citizens whose data is collected in such a manner that had previously not been protected by the Fourth Amendment according to prior legislation (or lack thereof).
“The legislation introduced Wednesday, called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, would require a warrant for all domestic law enforcement agencies to track the location and movements of individual Americans through GPS technology without their knowledge. It also aims to combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for secretly using an electronic device to track someone’s movements.”
This legislation would address one of many long-standing issue created by technology advancing faster than changes to the law.
It remains to be seen if Congress will take up debate of the proposed bill, or if it will founder in committees without the benefit of full congressional debate.