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.

ColoradoLaw enacted (2014)Warrant requirement for location information from devices but not from service providers.
ConnecticutIntroduced, 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).
GeorgiaLegislation was proposed in 2013. 
IllinoisLaw enacted (2014)Only covers real-time location information. Passed Senate unanimously prior to enactment.
IndianaLaw enacted (2014)Only covers real-time location information, but also requires a warrant for drone use and for electronic device searches.
IowaLaw enacted (2014)Applies only to GPS tracking.
KansasPassed both House and Senate.Conference Committee amended to remove all protections.
MaineLaw enacted (2013)Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
MarylandLaw enacted (2014)Only covers real-time location information.
MassachusettsBills 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.
MinnesotaLaw enacted (2014)Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
MississippiIntroduced, but legislature adjourned without acting.Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
MissouriLegislation was proposed in 2014. 
MontanaLaw enacted (2013)Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
New HampshireLaw 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 YorkIntroducedWould require warrant for use of StingRays.
North CarolinaIntroducedProposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
OhioLegislation was proposed in 2013. 
OklahomaIntroduced, but legislature adjourned without acting.Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
OregonIntroduced, but legislature adjourned without acting.Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
PennsylvaniaIntroducedProposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
Rhode IslandIntroduced, but legislature adjourned without acting.Proposed warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information.
South CarolinaLegislation was proposed in 2014. 
TennesseeLaw enacted (2014)Amended to undermine all protections.
TexasBills introduced in House and Senate.Senate bill would require warrant for both historical and real-time location information; House bill addresses StingRays.
UtahLaw enacted (2014)Warrant requirement for both historical and real-time location information. Also requires a warrant for electronic communications content.
VermontIntroducedAmended 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.

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

 

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