Cybersecurity amendment: Police need a warrant to track you via GPS


As the Senate gears up for a battle over the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 — a bill set for a vote this week, after two years of debate over its contents — the amendments are pouring in. The latest: A provision from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that would require law enforcement to receive a warrant before obtaining GPS location data from a citizen’s cellphone or other personal electronics, reports The Hill. Wyden is expected to officially introduce the amendment later today.

Dubbed the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, or “GPS Act,” the bill would explicitly require police to obtain a warrant before tracking a person’s GPS-enabled device, or gathering that information from companies. It would also provide clear ground rules for how companies must respond to police requests for such data.

To obtain a GPS-tracking warrant, the GPS Act mandates that law enforcement would have to have probable cause first before gathering geolocation data on a U.S. citizen. The need of a warrant would be waived, however, in instances of emergency, national security situations, or theft or fraud. Furthermore, the GPS Act would create criminal penalties for anyone who uses a GPS device to track a person’s movements.

The bill seeks to eliminate ambiguity in the law regarding GPS devices. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that police must obtain a warrant before placing a GPS tracking device on a suspect’s vehicle. However, the Court did not clarify whether a warrant was needed to obtain geolocation data that was already collected through a person’s GPS-enabled gadgets.

“Because the law has not kept up with the pace of innovation, it makes sense to include the GPS Act’s requirement that law enforcement obtain a warrant for GPS tracking in the Cybersecurity Act. This will protect Americans’ location information from misuse,” Wyden said in a statement. “Part of the goal of the cybersecurity legislation is to update rules for information collection and privacy for the digital age, which is what the GPS Act is all about.”

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA2012) would allow for greater sharing of “cyber threat data” between the U.S. government and businesses. Unlike earlier iterations of the bill — and also unlike the contentious Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — CSA2012 forbids the government from sharing the data with military organizations, like the National Security Agency, which often operate secretively.

CSA2012 would also create an incentives program for businesses who operate critical infrastructure networks, like electric grids, to incentivize the establishment of greater cybersecurity measures. A new agency would also be created to oversee the implementation of such measures.

Despite changes to CSA2012 that made the legislation more palatable to civil liberty advocats, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) still opposes the bill on the grounds that it would give companies like Internet service providers the ability to monitor the activity of their users, or block privacy-protecting technologies like Tor or VPNs.

Debate on CSA2012 is expected to begin today, with a vote set for later this week. It is not yet clear whether the GPS Act, which was first unveiled last year, will be adopted into the CSA 2012 legislation.


Amazon Prime Day deals are ending, but you can still get great bargains

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the Prime Day deals are over. With deals from Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon still going on, this massive shopping event is continuing on through the week.

Big, beautiful, and breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases

There’s no denying Samsung’s ability to turn out an attractive smartphone, but glass curves are expensive to fix and metal chips easily. We've rounded up the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases on the market.

FCC filing reveals impressive specs for luxury Movado Connect 2.0 smartwatch

It's been a while since we saw a smartwatch from luxury watchmaker Movado, but that drought may be over soon. FCC filings for the Movado Connect 2.0 have surfaced, and they paint a picture of a high-spec smartwatch.

T-Mobile wants to give you a free smartphone when you add a line

Did someone say free smartphones? T-Mobile is offering free smartphones from a select range of affordable phones when a new line is opened on its $40 per month per line Magenta tier and above.

Get your game on with the best controllers for Android smartphones

If you're looking to do some serious gaming on an Android device, you're going to need a gamepad. Here are the best controllers for Android games on smartphones and tablets, with rechargeable and wireless options.

The best mobile collage apps, for when a single image or video just won't cut it

Today's collage apps combine images and videos into a crafted presentation complete with fonts, stickers, memes, and other elements that tells a story, instead of relying on a single iconic representation of a place or event.

Android will soon monitor battery of wireless earbuds, find them if they get lost

Google will soon roll out new features that will improve Android support for true wireless earbuds. The planned features include the ability to monitor the charge of the wireless earbuds and Find My Device compatibility.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.

Here’s every Alexa Built-in phone that can access Amazon’s assistant on the move

If you've got your Amazon Echo, Echo Show, and Fire TV set up, you might want a phone that's just as tied into your Amazon-based A.I. network. Here's every Alexa Built-in smartphone you can buy from Amazon right now.

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.

Seeking photo storage and backup in the cloud? Google Photos gets the picture

Google Photos offers free, unlimited photo storage in the cloud, making photos instantly accessible and sharable. Google also uses artificial intelligence image analysis to organize photos and videos, making them easy to search and edit.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Tinder aims to break up with Google Play Store with new payment process

Tinder launched a new payment process that allows the dating app to bypass Google Play Store fees. Unlike others that have worked around app store fees, Tinder remains listed while in open defiance of the Google Play Store requirements.
Product Review

The new Asus gaming phone certainly isn't a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Asus is on a roll in 2019, having started out with the Zenfone 6 -- a welcome surprise and a great phone -- and now with the ROG Phone 2. This gaming phone has plenty of ability to ensure even casual gamers will want to take a look.