Missouri House Votes to Stop Warrantless Cell Tracking, Roorda Votes No

16 Mar

From the Seattle newspaper:

Law enforcement could not track the location of an electronic or cellular device without a warrant under a bill passed by the Missouri House.

The legislation passed with a 134-13 vote on Thursday (3/13) and now moves to the Senate. It would prohibit law enforcement from using technology to track an electronic device unless the device was reported stolen by the owner or there is a possible life-threatening situation.

Two courts in other states – Massachusetts and New Jersey – have ruled similarly, that using the GPS data on a person’s cell phone to track them cannot be done without a warrant. Wisconsin and Maryland are considering legislation similar to what the Missouri House passed. This is a good bill; it seems fairly straightforward that police should not be able to track a person via their cell phone without getting a judge’s approval. The Missouri ACLU agrees.

As you can see, this bill passed by a wide margin, with only 13 ‘no’ votes. One of the nays came from Rep. Jeff Roorda (D – 113th). As I have pointed out in a number of cases, Roorda – a former cop and current police union business manager – can be counted on to side with police on civil rights issues (however you feel about that). Past examples include alleged police abuse and oversight of police via dashboard or lapel cameras.

I was alerted to this bill by Rep. Elaine Gannon’s (R – 115th) newsletter, which you can sign up for here (on the right side). Most legislators have a similar newsletter signup, but vary in how often, if ever, they actually send one out.

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