Congress Pressured To Enact GPS Tracking Reform After Supreme Court Refused Hearing Cell Phone Case
This week, United States senators and House representatives are pressuring Congress to move along with certain bills that would limit GPS tracking and smartphone surveillance after the Supreme Court opted to refuse hearing a cell phone case a few days ago. What happened last Monday was that the justices decided on not reviewing a federal court’s decision from earlier in 2015 that police forces do not to given a warrant in order to seize and even search cell phone records that disclose a mobile user’s location.
Because the Supreme Court passed on this particular issue, cell phone tracking reform is now thrown the US Congress where it will have to make its way through ever complicated processes. This decision led various privacy advocates on the Capitol hill to reintroduce proposals, making cell phone tracking a hot topic. Democrat Senator Al Franken from the state of Minnesota has a bill that goes after “stalking” mobile apps that abusers take advantage of in retrieving the location information of their victims. Senator Franken’s bill would also mandate that companies get permission from mobile users before they gather data on location from consumers, plus permission to share that type of information to third parties.
Senator Ron Wyden, yet another Democrat from the state of Oregon, also made a reference to the news of the Supreme court decision in highlighting his GPS Act, which he co-sponsored with Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz. The GPS Act is designed to establish clearer rules on how law enforcement forces can make use of GPS tracking information without being given a warrant.
On top of Senator Franken’s and Senator Wyden’s bills, a certain group of solons on the House Oversight Committee wrote a letter demanding that US federal agencies be more transparent in how they make use of Stingray technology. The lawmakers sent letters to 24 agencies, including the National Science Foundation. Stingray technology is widely use by a wide number of government agencies, even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
For those not in the know, Stingray devices can be used similar to cell phone towers, essentially letting law enforcement agencies gather data sent from mobile devices without warrants. Despite the fact that the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have amended their Stingray practices by securing warrants, other federal agencies have not yet followed their lead. Moreover, local law enforcement agencies, depending on local jurisdiction laws, often use Stingray technology without warrants.