Status of Location Privacy Legislation in the States: 2015

Following another year of concerted activity in state capitals around the country, 18 states now require law enforcement to get a probable cause warrant before obtaining people’s cell phone location information. Six of those states protect both historical and real-time location information from warrantless search. In both the courts and legislatures across the country, progress continues towards expanding privacy protections. This year alone, legislation was introduced in 17 states. Instead of waiting for Congress or the courts to act, state legislatures are leading the way in protecting our Fourth Amendment location privacy rights in the digital age.

So far this year, New Hampshire has joined the ranks of states offering full probable-cause warrant protection to both historical and real-time cell phone location information. The Washington legislature unanimously passed a law requiring a warrant for use of “StingRay” cell phone tracking equipment, and Virginia enacted a similar law.

State supreme courts have decided this issue as well in some states, ruling that a probable cause warrant for cell phone location information is required by the state’s constitution.

The chart below shows the current status of state legislation and state supreme court decisions across the country. At the time of writing, legislation is still pending in 5 states. We will keep this chart updated through the end of calendar 2015.

Chart updated 10/13/2015.

State

Status

Notes

California

Law enacted (2015)

Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.

Colorado Law enacted (2014) Warrant requirement for location information from devices but not from service providers.
Connecticut Introduced, but legislature adjourned without acting. Proposed warrant requirement for cell phone records and content of electronic communications.
Florida   State Supreme Court requires warrant for real-time location information: Tracey v. State (2014).
Georgia Legislation was proposed in 2013.  
Illinois Law enacted (2014) Only covers real-time location information. Passed Senate unanimously prior to enactment.
Indiana Law enacted (2014) Only covers real-time location information, but also requires a warrant for drone use and for electronic device searches.
Iowa Law enacted (2014) Applies only to GPS tracking.
Kansas Passed both House and Senate. Conference Committee amended to remove all protections.
Maine Law enacted (2013) Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Maryland Law enacted (2014) Only covers real-time location information.
Massachusetts Bills introduced in House and Senate. State Supreme Court requires warrant for historical location information: Commonwealth v. Augustine (2014). In legislature, proposed warrant requirement for cell phone and Internet service provider records.
Minnesota Law enacted (2014) Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Mississippi Introduced, but legislature adjourned without acting. Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Missouri Legislation was proposed in 2014.  
Montana Law enacted (2013) Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
New Hampshire Law enacted (2015) Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
New Jersey   State Supreme Court requires warrant for real-time tracking: State v. Earls (2013).
New York Introduced Would require warrant for use of StingRays.
North Carolina Introduced Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Ohio Legislation was proposed in 2013.  
Oklahoma Introduced, but legislature adjourned without acting. Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Oregon Introduced, but legislature adjourned without acting. Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Pennsylvania Introduced Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Rhode Island Introduced, but legislature adjourned without acting. Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
South Carolina Legislation was proposed in 2014.  
Tennessee Law enacted (2014) Amended to undermine all protections.
Texas Bills introduced in House and Senate. Senate bill would require warrant for both historical and real-time location information; House bill addresses StingRays.
Utah Law enacted (2014) Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information. Also requires a warrant for electronic communications content.
Vermont Introduced Amended to eliminate all protections.
Virginia

Law enacted (2014)

 

Law amended (2015)

 

Law enacted (2015)

Only covers real-time location information (2014)

Amended to allow location tracking under a less protective legal standard.

Warrant requirement for use of StingRays.

Washington Law enacted (2015) Warrant requirement for use of StingRays. Passed both chambers unanimously prior to enactment.
West Virginia Introduced, but legislature adjourned without acting. Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Wisconsin Law enacted (2014) Allows location tracking under a less protective legal standard.

 

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Anonymous

Maybe one will need to report a stolen cell phone immediately to head off accusations of being at the scene of a dirty deed. If your phone is stolen, you may need to prove you were not with it. Why does anyone care where someone is? They're probably going to work to pay their bills and feed themselves. Busybodies might do better with community policing and not sticking their noses in the private lives of the 99%.

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