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Support growing for Chaffetz's GPS Act to protect cellphone data

By Mary Richards | Posted - Feb 28th, 2014 @ 11:57am

WASHINGTON — A privacy bill introduced by Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz that would keep police from using private citizens' electronic devices against them is getting support from around the country.

Right now, law enforcement officers don't need a probable cause statement to track anyone.

“They can trace it backward, they can see everybody that they are communicating with, and that's just not their business,” Chaffetz, R-Utah, said. “It's just not."

The ACLU says authorities could theoretically use location services on your smartphone, tablet, or car navigation system to track you and arrest you without cause or warrant. Chaffetz teamed up with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to create a bill titled the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act to define when law enforcement entities can use GPS data from cellphone companies.

"I don't want our federal government, our state and local governments following my every move in every place that I go to,” Chaffetz said.

The Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Jones in January 2012 that law enforcement could not put GPS trackers on cars without a warrant.

“Although Jones was a step in the right direction, the Department of Justice is still arguing in court that they do not need a warrant to track someone’s movements using GPS devices or technology," Chaffetz said in a press release."This highlights the need for Congress to step in and provide clear and reasonable guidelines."

The bottom line, Chaffetz said, is the technology is there to follow every movement. The GPS Act would require officials to obtain a warrant and show probable cause before pulling those records.

The ACLU has made a video for its campaign to support the GPS Act and has set up a form for people to fill out on their website to tell their members of Congress they support the bill.

Contributing: Tracie Snowder

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