Free Future

Status of Location Privacy Legislation in the States

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 12:00am

In the wake of the NSA revelations, there has been an avalanche of state bills requiring law enforcement to obtain a probable cause warrant before tracking an individual’s location in an investigation. Most state legislators know they can’t control the NSA—but they can control their state and local law enforcement, which are engaging in some of the same invasive practices. The trend actually started in the wake of the ACLU’s nationwide public records requests on location tracking and the 2012 U.S. v. Jones decision, when Montana and Maine enacted the first two location tracking laws in the country—the recent revelations have simply increased the momentum.

Working closely with our lobbyists in state capitols around the country, we’ve been tracking this activity and working hard to make sure these privacy-protective bills become law. The chart below shows the current status of state legislation as we understand it. We will keep this chart up-to-date as we receive new information.

Updated 6/30/14

2014 legislation proposed in 11 states and laws enacted in 11 states.

State

Status

Notes

Colorado Law (2014) Passed Senate unanimously
Illinois Law (2014) Only covers real-time location information. Passed Senate unanimously.
Indiana Law (2014) Only covers real-time location information, but also requires a warrant for drone use and for electronic device searches.
Iowa Law (2014) Applies only to GPS tracking.
Kansas Legislature adjourned. Covers all third-party held data.
Maine Law (2013)  
Maryland Law (2014) Only covers real-time location information.
Massachusetts   Also requires a warrant for electronic communications content.
Michigan Introduced Legislation focused on the use of StingRays.
Minnesota Law (2014)  
Missouri Passed the House and Senate; awaiting governor's action. Bill amended in the Senate to allow location tracking under a less protective legal standard.
Montana Law (2013)  
New Hampshire Passed House. Senate Committee referred for interim study (dead for this year)  
Ohio Passed the Senate  
Oklahoma Dead for this year  
South Carolina Passed the House.  Legislature adjourned without further action. Also covers law enforcement access to electronic communications content.
Tennessee Law (2014) Amended to undermine all privacy protections in the bill.
Utah Law (2014) Also requires a warrant for electronic communications content.
Vermont Legislature adjourned.  
Virginia Law (2014) Only covers real-time location information.
West Virginia Legislature adjourned  
Wisconsin Law (2014) The bill allows location tracking under a less protective legal standard.

 

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