WASHINGTON, D.C., March 21, 2013 — Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, which would limit the government’s ability to warrantlessly access location data derived from individuals’ smartphones and other mobile devices. The GPS Act’s sponsors in the House of Representatives include Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and John Conyers (D-MI). The bill’s Senate sponsors include Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public interest group, praised the GPS Act and urged Congress to enact this important legislation as a bipartisan solution to mobile privacy concerns.
“Outdated federal laws and confused court decisions have rendered Americans’ geolocation information vulnerable to warrantless government access,” said Ryan Radia, CEI Associate Director of Technology Studies. “The Fourth Amendment protects our reasonable privacy expectations in our papers and effects, yet today, government authorities routinely compel service providers to disclose individuals’ geolocation information without probable cause or meaningful judicial oversight.”
The GPS Act would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant, issued upon a showing of probable cause, before accessing mobile geolocation information under most circumstances. At the same time, the bill contains an exception permitting geolocation information to be shared in the event of a bona fide emergency.
“This legislation would not only affirm Americans’ constitutional rights, but also encourage the adoption and development of innovative mobile services,” said Radia. “If burgeoning wireless ecosystems are to realize their full potential, companies must be able to offer robust privacy assurances to their users.”