About the latest phone tracking bill

As GPS is a latest technology therefore, no federal law currently exists in the USA about legal GPS use, geographical information acquiring and phone tracking. However, to overcome the crisis, many states have made their own phone tracking laws. Some of the states require warrants for phone tracking, some does not require warrants, some still can’t decide what to do, some states are providing limited privacy protections etc. However, US congress has been working on the GPS (Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance) Act since 2009 and still the law forming process is in progress. The first bill of GPS Act is H.R.3528 GPS Protection and Safety Act 2009 which is currently referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security by the House. Latest bill in GPS Act is H.R.3470 and the House referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and investigations on Sept 6, 2017. This bill was introduced on July 27, 2017 by the Rep. Farethold, Blake (R-TX-27).

What about H.R.3470?

Title of the bill describes it as “A Bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to specify the circumstances in which a person may acquire the geolocation”. If we have overview of this bill we see some important and technical terms that are related to GPS (Global Position System), Tracking, Geolocation etc. are properly defined. Such terms are given below:

  • Electronic Communication Service
  • Electronic Surveillance
  • Geolocation Information
  • Geolocation Information Service
  • Intercept
  • Investigative or Law Enforcement Officer
  • Person
  • Remote Computing Service
  • State
  • Wireless Communication Device
  • Covered Service

Interception and Disclosure of geolocation Information (A summery)

In general, it describes that it shall be unlawful for any person to:

Intentionally intercept, attempts to intercept or hire/use any other person to intercept, geolocation information related to another person.

Intentionally disclosure, attempt to disclose or procure any person to obtain the geolocation information related to another person.

Intentionally use of geolocation information knowing that this information was obtained through illegal way.

Intentionally disclose or try to disclose the geolocation information of one person to another person.

Knowing that information obtained is in connection of with a criminal case or investigation.

Penalty: A person who violates above shall be fined, imprisoned not more than five years or both.

However, there are some exceptions for this law such as:

Exception for information that is acquired by the agent or employee of provider of covered services (Health Care Services) in the normal course of business.

Exception for conducting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance.

Exception for consent when a person has given consent about usage of his geolocation information or parent of a children consent to track the geolocation of a child. It is also exception that it will not be unlawful to use information related to another person through a public source. Exception for emergency services (when life and safety is threatened) is also available. Exception is also there if one’s geolocation has been disclosed due to his device theft or a fraud. Some more technical details can be read by accessing the bill through US Congress’s Official Website.

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