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New Hampshire house bans warrantless tracking of cell phones

CONCORD, NH, March 19, 2014 – Last Wednesday, the New Hampshire house overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban the obtaining of cellphone location tracking information without a warrant. House Bill 1567 (HB1567) prohibits use of such information in civil or criminal proceedings, and bans tracking devices from being placed on the property of private citizens without a warrant as well.

Introduced by Rep. Neal Kurk (R-2), the measure was passed through the house by a voice vote.

HB1567 will not only add a key protection to bolster the privacy rights of New Hampshire residents from potential local abuse, 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” to 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.

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. Reuters reported that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. Most of it involves routine criminal investigations.

In short – banning state government entities in New Hampshire from obtaining phone location tracking information without a warrant will block them from receiving that kind of information from federal agencies who routinely collect it without warrant.

HB1567 is part of a package of bills designed to thwart the surveillance state that are currently being considered by the New Hampshire legislature. HB1533 requires government officials to obtain a warrant to search for information in an electronic device. HB1619 safeguards private information sent to a third party from warrantless surveillance. All three bills have been passed through the house this year.

HB1567 now moves to the State Senate where it will first need to be assigned to a committee before the full senate has an opportunity to send it to Gov. Hassan’s desk for a signature.

ACTION ITEMS

If you live in New Hampshire: Click HERE to learn the next steps to take in support of HB1567, HB1533 and HB1619.

If you live outside of New Hampshire: Click HERE to find out how to fight the NSA’s unconstitutional spying in your state.

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