Missouri considers ban on law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data without a warrant

By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, March 16, 2014 21:02 EDT
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A person holding and observing cellphones (AFP)
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Missouri’s House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would prevent law enforcement and other government agencies from gathering the location tracking information from cellphones and other handheld devices without a warrant.

According to Think Progress, Missouri joins other states in bringing laws up to date to reflect emerging technologies.

Passed by a vote of 134-3, the bill — HB 1338 — explicitly states that “a government entity shall not obtain the location information of an electronic device without a search warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Lacking a warrant, the data gleaned from the devices would “not be admissible in a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding,” thus making it useless in a criminal prosecution.

Additionally the law states that information gathered may not be used “in an affidavit of probable cause in an effort to obtain a search warrant” which would disallow police from obtaining additional warrants based upon an illegal search of the phone’s tracking data.

The bill now moves on to the Senate for debate and passage before it reaches the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon (D).

The supreme courts of Massachusetts and New Jersey have recently ruled that police have to obtain warrants before utilizing data location information.

Maryland and Wisconsin currently have legislation pending similar to Missouri’s.

Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni is based in the quaint seaside community of Pacific Beach in less quaint San Diego. He writes about politics, media, culture, and other annoyances. Mostly he spends his days at the beach gazing at the horizon waiting for the end of the world, or the sun to go down. Whichever comes first.
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