On Wednesday, an American legislature took the most affirmative step so far to limit cell-phone location tracking by law enforcement. The California Location Privacy Act, passed with bipartisan support by the state's Assembly, could protect the location data created by citizens' cell phones, tablets and computers.
Under current law, police don't need a warrant to find out where your cell phone is -- or, since you probably have your cell phone in your pocket, to find out where you are. A law enforcement official can simply ask a cell provider for location data, and then that company gets to choose whether or not to relinquish it.
The result? Last year, it's likely that more than 1.3 million people had their location data handed over to law enforcement agencies.
There appear to only have been three main legislative attempts to alter this process.
Two are national: the GPS Act, introduced in June 2011 by the Senate Democrat Ron Wyden and the House Republican Jason Chaffetz, and the Wireless Surveillance Act of 2012, introduced as a discussion draft by House Democrat Ed Markey earlier this summer. (Markey's requests to cell phone providers, also earlier this year, revealed for the first time the extent of police requests for cell locations .)
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