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Lawmakers Push Legislation to Block Cell Data Tracking

A Senate committee unanimously followed the House in voting to put a stop to the use of electronic scanners that can download information from your cell phone.

cell phone

Photo: Flickr (JonJon2k8)

Bill author Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) says the bill makes clear the same principles that apply to searching someone‘s paper files also apply to cell phone contacts and other electronic data.

Legislators are moving toward drawing a dividing line between police surveillance and privacy rights.

A Senate committee unanimously followed the House in voting to put a stop to the use of electronic scanners that can download information from your cell phone. The bill would require police to get consent or show probable cause.

Bill author Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) says the bill protects individual liberty without interfering with legitimate police investigations. He says it just makes clear the same principles which would apply to searching someone’s paper files apply to cell phone contacts and other electronic data.

“I personally do not believe this in any way will frustrate law enforcement officers doing their job.  These are things that they’re used to doing when they search other personal items affects vehicles and homes, so its reasonable that we now extend it to our cell phones, which contain a tremendous amount of private information,” Speedy says.

Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) voted for the bill and says he supports it in principle, but says he’s not convinced it will accomplish anything. He predicts police will just find a way to claim probable cause.

“I don’t think it has enough teeth to do what you’re trying to do,” Taylor says.

A second Senate panel will hear a bill Wednesday that would go even further, requiring a warrant not only for electronic data downloads, but for hidden cameras, tracking devices, and aerial drones.

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