ST. PAUL, Min., – May 5, 2014. A bipartisan bill which would ban law enforcement from obtaining cellphone location tracking information without a warrant passed the Minnesota state house on Friday. The vote was 120-0. It previously passed the senate by a vote of 56-1. But since the house made technical amendments to the bill it will go back to the senate for concurrence before being sent to the governor’s desk.
SF2466 was introduced by Sen. Brandon Petersen (R-Andover) and cosponsored by two democrat and two republican senators. It reads, in part:
A government entity may not obtain the location information of an electronic device without a court order. A court order granting access to location information must be issued only if the government entity shows that there is probable cause the person who possesses an electronic device is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime.
SF2466 would not only protect people in Minnesota from warrantless data gathering by state and local law enforcement, it will also end some practical effects of unconstitutional data gathering by the federal government.
NSA collects, stores, and analyzes data on countless millions of people without a warrant, and without even the mere suspicion of criminal activity. The NSA tracks the physical location of people through their cellphones. In late 2013, the Washington Post reported that NSA is “gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” This includes location data on “tens of millions” of Americans each year – without a warrant.
Through fusion centers, state and local law enforcement act as information recipients from various federal departments under Information Sharing Environment (ISE). ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence, which is an umbrella covering 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. State and local law enforcement share data up the chain with the feds.
The NSA expressly shares warrantless data with state and local law enforcement through a super-secret DEA unit known as the Special Operations Division (SOD). That information is being used for criminal prosecutions. A Reuters report last fall showed that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. Most of it involves routine criminal investigations.
This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment.
“Safety should not come at the expense of civil liberties,” said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
SF2466 will prevent state law enforcement from gathering cell phone location data and sharing it up the chain and it will make information vacuumed up by the feds and shared down the chain inadmissible in court, stopping a practical effect of NSA spying.
If you live in Minnesota, click HERE to take action
If you live outside of Minnesota, click HERE to find out how to fight the NSA’s unconstitutional spying in your state.