What could go wrong with a government that wants the ability to track people with GPS devices without probable cause?
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a new bill, known as the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, to force law enforcement to obtain a warrant to track suspects with GPS devices.
The bill, which was introduced to Congress yesterday, is sponsored by Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), as well as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House judiciary committee ranking member Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). If passed, it would provide a “legal framework” that provides clear guidelines on when and how GPS devices can be accessed and used.
“New technologies are making it increasingly easy to track and log the location of individuals. We need to make sure laws are keeping up with technology to protect our privacy,” Chaffetz said. “Put simply, the government and law enforcement should not be able to track somebody indefinitely without their knowledge or consent or without obtaining a warrant from a judge.
The legislation was introduced a day after the government argued before a federal appeals court that warrantless GPS tracking is an important part of the law enforcement process. The government’s attorneys have argued that GPS devices can be used to “gather information to establish probable cause, which is often the most productive use of such devices.” Requiring a warrant means being forced to establish probable cause before that and ultimately limit the value of GPS devices.