Maine bill would prohibit law enforcement from tracking cell phones without warrant

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
Font Size:

A bill introduced in Maine would prohibit government entities in the state from monitoring cell phone communications without a warrant, the Bangor Daily News reported Sunday.

The bill, which was sponsored by Assistant Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz, is an attempt to modernize Maine law to keep pace with modern advancements communications technology, the demands of law enforcement and the privacy concerns of individuals.

The paper reports that, if passed, the bill would require state and local law enforcement to obtain a warrant in order to collect location information from cell phones or other electronic devices, “except in cases of imminent threat to national security or grave personal injury.”

The bill would also require that government entities inform individuals within three days if their location information had been collected. Government entities, however, would not have to notify individuals if “good cause can be established to withhold the information.”

A summary report of warrants issued would also be provided to the state legislature.

Katz’s bill was first introduced in February, but a state house work session is scheduled for April 11.

On the federal level, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee introduced a bill — The Electronic Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013 — to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 19 to modernize the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA).

The bill would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant in order to compel service providers to hand over emails and other stored documents relevant to an investigation.

A coalition of left wing and right wing groups — including Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Democracy & Technology, American Civil Liberties Union and Heritage Action for America — has come together to support the legislation.

A number of private corporations, think tanks and advocacy groups, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Reddit and Twitter have also voiced their support for an update to the 27 year old law.

Follow Josh on Twitter