Tennessee Senate passes bill to ban warrantless cellphone tracking, 28-2

NASHVILLE, April 8, 2014 - A Tennessee bill which would ban law enforcement from obtaining cellphone location tracking information without a warrant passed the state senate yesterday. The vote was 28-2

Introduced by Sen. Mae Beavers, Senate Bill 2087 (SB2087) passed through the Judiciary Committee last month by a unanimous 6-0 vote. It now moves to the state house, where it will first be considered in committee before the full house has an opportunity to concur.

Aside from limited exigent circumstances specifically outlined in the bill, SB2087 would ensure that "no governmental entity shall obtain the location information of an electronic device without a search warrant issued by a duly authorized court." Any information gathered in violation of SB2087 would be inadmissible in the court of law.

If passed into law, SB2087 would not only protect people in Tennessee 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. SB2087 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. 

ACTION ITEMS 

If you live in Tennessee, click HERE to call your state representative. Strongly, but respectfully urge him or her to vote YES on SB2087.

If you live outside of Tennessee, click HERE to find out how to fight the NSA’s unconstitutional spying in your state.