Illinois House passes bill to ban warrantless cellphone tracking, 111-0

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 21, 2014 - An Illinois bill which would ban law enforcement from obtaining cellphone location tracking information without a warrant passed the state House on Monday. The vote was 111-0. It had previously passed the Senate by a 52-0 vote, but since the House made technical amendments to the bill it goes back to the Senate for a final approval. 

Introduced by Sen. Daniel Biss, Senate Bill 2808 (SB2808) would ensure that "a law enforcement agency shall not obtain current or future location information pertaining to a person or his or her effects without first obtaining a court order based on probable cause to believe that the person whose location information is sought has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime."

Any information gathered in violation of SB2808 would be inadmissible in the court of law.

If passed into law, SB2808 would not only protect people in Illinois 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. NSA also 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).  A Reuters report that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. Most of it involves routine criminal investigations.

This location tracking and data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. SB2808 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 dangerous practical effect of NSA spying.

The bill includes a narrow set of exceptions, authorizing law enforcement to obtain such information in limited emergency situations such as abduction or "a clear and present danger of imminent death." Even in those situations, law enforcement will still be required to gain court approval for the location tracking no later than 72 hours after the action was taken. If they fail to do so, the information will also be inadmissible in court. Judges are required to view the request narrowly.

In order to approve obtaining location information, the judge must make a determination (i) that he or she would have granted an order had the information been before the court prior to the obtaining of the location information and (ii) there was an emergency situation as defined in this paragraph

SB2808 now moves to the state Senate, where final approval will send the bill to the Governor's desk. 

ACTION ITEMS 

If you live in Illinois, take action to support this legislation HERE 

All other states, click HERE to find out how to fight the NSA’s unconstitutional spying in your state.