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

GPS-Tracking

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.

Smart Home

Fraudulent sales of home alarm systems are on the rise nationwide

According to a new consumer survey from the Consumer Federation of America, there are increasing reports of bad actors using scare tactics and manipulation to sell fraudulent alarm systems.
Computing

Australian student hacks into Apple, steals 90GB of data because he’s a ‘fan’

A 16-year-old student in Australia broke into Apple’s network multiple times for an entire year to download 90GB of “secure” data and access customer accounts. He did this because he was a "fan."
Emerging Tech

Police body cams are scarily easy to hack into and manipulate, researcher finds

Nuix cybersecurity expert Josh Mitchell has demonstrated how it is possible to hack into and potentially manipulate footage from police body cams. The really scary part? It's shockingly easy.
Mobile

Police bust a massive interstate SIM card hijacking ring

Law enforcement agents in Flordia and several other states have worked together to break up an interstate cybercrime ring that used hijacked SIM cards to steal cryptocurrencies and cash from victims.
Mobile

Google confirms it still tracks users who turn Location History off

Google is tracking your location -- even when you tell it not to. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, Google services store location data, regardless of whether privacy settings claim otherwise.
Mobile

Is your smartphone frozen? Here's how to reset your iPhone

You can do a lot with an iPhone, but if you ever run into an issue with it, the first thing you should do is restart it. In this guide, we tell you how to reset your iPhone, and explain how it differs from a factory reset.
Home Theater

Crazybaby’s Air 1S true wireless earbuds won’t make you look like a dork

Audio technology company Crazybaby has launched the Air 1S true wireless earbuds, offering considerable connectivity improvements over previous models while retaining the sleek style and supreme comfort.
Mobile

The HTC U12 Plus is now available in color-shifting Flame Red shade

HTC has released some pretty great flagship phones in the past few years, and it's now aiming to follow up with another one. After plenty of rumors and leaks, the company has finally taken the wraps off of the new HTC U12 Plus.
Mobile

A subway passenger may have snagged a shot of the upcoming Pixel 3 XL

It hasn't been too long since Google launched the Pixel 2, but it's already gearing up for the next iteration, the Google Pixel 3. Here's everything we know about the upcoming phones so far.
Mobile

HMD may announce the U.S. release of the Nokia 6.1 Plus next week

It's shaping up to be a big year for HMD. After announcing five phones at MWC earlier this year, the handset manufacturer is reportedly bringing another budget phone, the Nokia 6.1 Plus, to the U.S.
Mobile

Newly leaked photos show a fully functioning Motorola One Power

Many of us have come to know and love Motorola's extensive lineup of budget phones. But Motorola makes some pretty awesome midrange smartphones as well. And it looks like we're about to see its next phone, the Motorola One Power, very soon.
Mobile

How to find a lost phone, whether it's Android, iPhone, or any other kind

Need to know how to find a lost phone? Here, we’ll help you locate your lost or stolen phone using both native and third-party apps and services, whether it’s a smartphone or an older variety.
Product Review

Sony's underwhelming XZ2 Premium makes a better camera than a phone

Sony’s third flagship phone of 2018 is its first to ever feature a dual-camera lens. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium can capture ultra-low-light video far better than the iPhone X or Galaxy Note 9, but is it worth the high cost?
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T could launch on T-Mobile in October, report says

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. The report notes that the phone could launch on T-Mobile.