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Location Privacy Act Approved By California Legislature 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the coordinates-undefined dept.
New submitter wermske writes "Ars Technica and ZDNet report the Location Privacy Act of 2012 (SB-1434) was passed by the California legislature on Wednesday. The California Location Privacy Act, co-sponsored by the ACLU of California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, updates California privacy law to reflect the modern mobile world by providing needed protection against warrantless government access to a person's location information. Recent reports indicate that cell phone tracking is routine and few agencies obtain warrants for such surveillance. The need for this protection resurfaced last week when warrantless GPS tracking appeared again in the national news — a federal appeals court ruled that law enforcement is allowed to track the GPS signal coming from a suspect's prepaid phone without a warrant. The scope of the Location Privacy Act would include gathering GPS or other location-tracking data from cell phones, tablets, computers, automobiles, etc. The next stop is the governor's desk; however, there is concern that Governor Jerry Brown may not sign this act into law. In 2011, Gov. Brown vetoed an attempt at enforcing stricter privacy rules."
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Location Privacy Act Approved By California Legislature

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  • Wouldn't the federal government trump state law here? Why would they care that it was illegal on the state level if they were doing Official Federal Government Snooping?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Things are federally legal and locally banned/restricted all the time.(guns is an obvious one)

      I would assume this would mean the fed could still track you without a warrant, but any state/city etc police would need one.

      IANAL

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bmimatt (1021295)
      Yes, but the feds already have the patriot act and such.  This, if signed off on by Brown, will prevent CA cops from unchecked snooping.
    • The federal government rarely trumps state law, the feds can not compel the state to follow federal law but can cut their funding if they choose not too. If the feds were in California breaking California law, or snooping on someone in California outside of California, then there would be a new case for the supreme court regarding the 10th amendment. Too bad Jerry Brown will never sign it, it would be an interesting case, and I would hope that the Supreme court would rule correctly.
    • by greggem (1044620)

      Local (i.e. non-federal) law enforcement would be required to comply with the state law.

      Basically, the Federal Constitution provides the minimum rights afforded to everyone in every state. No state can have a law which would reduce those rights. The states are entirely free to give people more rights and freedoms, however. Many States do just that. In some states there are provisions of the state constitution which are word-for-word copies of parts of the federal constitution, but which have been interprete

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>No state can have a law which would reduce those rights.

        That's only been true since about 1900 in a gradual process by the SCOTUS called incorporation. Prior to that point states didn't have to obey the Constitution. For example Congress is barred from establishing an official state religion, but the many States continued to have their own state/taxpayer supported religion upto ~1840.

        >>>One example in the search and seizure area is routine traffic stops. SCOTUS says you can arrest som

        • by greggem (1044620)

          >>>One example in the search and seizure area is routine traffic stops. SCOTUS says you can arrest someone for not wearing a seatbelt and haul their butt to jail.

          Yeah but they also ruled any evidence found is not admissable, because the officer had no cause to randly pull-over your car and impede your travel. He can ticket you for the safety violation of not wearing a belt, but if he finds drugs then he is exceeding the purpose of the stop & the evidence must be thrown out.

          Who said it was random? You weren't wearing a seat belt. If he can arrest you he can search your car. There are a couple of different exceptions that allow this search without a warrant. One is called the "search incident to arrest." This allows the officer to search your person and your immediate vicinity when you are arrested. It is well established that this includes your car (though probably not the trunk).

          Of course if you are arrested for that seat belt ticket, the officer isn't required to leave your

    • by number11 (129686)

      Wouldn't the federal government trump state law here? Why would they care that it was illegal on the state level if they were doing Official Federal Government Snooping?

      I dunno. Are federal personnel allowed to violate state laws? ALL state laws? Let's say, for instance, that there's a state law that prohibits sex with chickens, but no such federal law. Can an FBI agent get amorous with chickens with impunity? And if not, what exactly makes snooping GPS records different?

      It's not real clear from the article exactly what the bill provides for. Can a cell company voluntarily hand over the data? Would the cell company be liable if it turned over the data without a warr

  • I'm sure its not coincidence that this came right after the supreme court ruling. Maybe the wording of the current law allows them to track GPS, but California sees a way to rework the scope. Are there more crooks in California ? Maybe the people lobbying for privacy are scammers..
  • Evidence (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Friday August 24, 2012 @04:11PM (#41114125) Journal

    Proof that a broke clock (California) is right twice a day.

    • Don't you mean a broken clo-- ohhhhh.

      I see what you did there. ;)

  • a federal appeals court ruled that law enforcement is allowed to track the GPS signal coming from a suspect's prepaid phone without a warrant.

    Somehow I suspect even non-technical appeals court judges know that GPS signals do not originate on a phone.

    I suspect either the summary or ARS has things a bit confused. The ruling had to do with location data from cellular providers which they collect in order to provide you service, and which is regarded as pen register data, merely which towers you are pinging off of at any given time. This is how calls are routed.

    If your phone also reports your precise GPS location to your carriers, then we need legis

    • a federal appeals court ruled that law enforcement is allowed to track the GPS signal coming from a suspect's prepaid phone without a warrant.

      Somehow I suspect even non-technical appeals court judges know that GPS signals do not originate on a phone.

      I suspect either the summary or ARS has things a bit confused. The ruling had to do with location data from cellular providers which they collect in order to provide you service, and which is regarded as pen register data, merely which towers you are pinging off of at any given time. This is how calls are routed.

      If your phone also reports your precise GPS location to your carriers, then we need legislation to prevent that, unless or until the user places a 911 call.

      Yes, it never ceases to amaze me that most of the populace things that GPS is something your phone/mapper TRANSMITS. The damn TV shows are no help at all.

  • If the old king would have abused the power, we, the free people of the US, need to prevent its use withot a warrant.

    Shame on people who think otherwise. You don't deserve the vote in a free society.

    • Shame on people who think otherwise. You don't deserve the vote in a free society.

      I always prefer that sentiment in the original German.

  • Anyone know why Jerry Brown is against privacy protections? I thought he was big on civil liberties rather than being a "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" type.

    Is he still traumatized by 9/11 or something?

    • by Hatta (162192)

      He got elected, that's what happened. Before election, civil liberties are a good issue to win votes. After election, civil liberties are nothing but an obstacle.

      • by JeffAtl (1737988)

        But he has been elected before. He served two terms as governor in the late 70's & 80's.

          I was under the impresion that he was a proponent of civil liberties during his previous stint. Is that not correct or did he change his views?

  • I had no idea that phones produce "GPS signals". Fascinating.

  • GPS signal coming from a suspect's prepaid phone

    The Global Positioning System satellites (GPS) sends out the GPS signals, GPS devices only receive the signals, they do not emit them. Phones of course communicate via microwave EMFs with the cell towers and it is this which could be tracked.

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Gps [wikimedia.org]

    • GPS signal coming from a suspect's prepaid phone

      The Global Positioning System satellites (GPS) sends out the GPS signals, GPS devices only receive the signals, they do not emit them. Phones of course communicate via microwave EMFs with the cell towers and it is this which could be tracked.

      https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Gps [wikimedia.org]

      Likely, the summary is dumbed down from "the GPS location data (determined by receiving signals from satellites) that is transmitted to the carriers' cell towers." But I, too am tired of that portrayal of GPS; thank you TV shows.

  • Governor Brown is not acting in the interests of his constituents (and no, large corporations with an interest in individuals' data are not constituents), hence needs to be removed from office. Immediately.

"Wish not to seem, but to be, the best." -- Aeschylus

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