Minnesota House Approves Ban on Warrantless Cellphone Tracking

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
05/06/2014
       
Minnesota House Approves Ban on Warrantless Cellphone Tracking

The Minnesota state legislature took a major step May 2 toward banning warrantless tracking of cellphones.

By a vote of 120-0, the Minnesota state House of Representatives unanimously passed SF 2466, a bill already approved by their colleagues in the state senate by a vote of 56-1.

The measure now heads to a conference committee that will be charged with hammering out a compromise version of the legislation that will then need to be approved by both houses before heading to Governor Mark Dayton for enactment.

On the House side, the bill was sponsored by state Representative Joe Atkins. The companion measure in the Senate was authored by state Senator Brandon Petersen.

“Nearly every Minnesotan carries some mobile device with them every day and we need to make sure that the location data of innocent people is not subject to unreasonable or unchecked searches by government,” Atkins said in a statement published by the (Minneapolis) StarTribune. “Times have changed and we use our mobile devices for location services all the time. This bill is a step in ensuring our laws catch up with the times.”

Atkins’ apparently appreciates the threat to privacy posed by an ever-widening surveillance net.

The tracking is rampant. Based on reports of the number of domestic phone calls being recorded by the National Security Agency, the Obama administration must have probable cause to suspect millions of us of threatening national security.

As The New American reported last year, documents obtained by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that, in a 30-day period in 2013, the NSA recorded data on 124.8 billion phone calls, about three billion of which originated within the United States.

The program, first reported by The Guardian, is appropriately code-named “Boundless Informant,” and it involves the monitoring and recording of phone calls and Internet communication. The Guardian revealed that Boundless Informant “allows users to select a country on a map and view the meta data volume and select details about the collections against that country.”

While it is unlikely that the actual conversations themselves were recorded by the NSA, the fact that any information on a phone call was recorded without conforming to the Constitution is alarming. Regardless of the volume of recordings or the amount or type of data stored, a single act of warrantless surveillance violates the Constitution, and everyone who ordered or participated in the program should be held accountable.

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