House Bill Would Help Establish Human Tracking Program

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Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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A bill coming out of the House Judiciary Committee directs the federal government help state and local agencies use “tracking technology” to locate dementia patients and developmentally disabled children.

The bill, H.R. 4919, is worrying some members on Capitol Hill who are concerned about privacy protections.

It directs the U.S. attorney general to award grants to law enforcement or public safety agencies at the state and local levels so that those agencies can design, establish and operate “locative tracking technology programs.” The programs would be aimed at locating “individuals with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, or children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, who have wandered from safe environments.”

The bill would also require the attorney general to consult with the secretary of health and human services and other health organizations to come up with best practices for the tracking devices.

It wants the attorney general to determine “the criteria used to determine which individuals would benefit from the use of a tracking device; who should have direct access to the tracking system; and >which types of tracking devices can be used in compliance with the standards and best practices.”

One source on the Hill told The Daily Caller that more conservative members are already voicing how uncomfortable they are with the measure and discussions of the bill will be on Wednesday during a markup.

Americans for Limited Government Rick Manning warned in a press release Tuesday, “It is almost too absurd to believe that it is true, but the House Judiciary Committee is considering H.R. 4919 that would allow for the Attorney General to authorize tracking chips to be inserted involuntarily into people who are incapacitated with Alzheimer’s and other fatal dementias.”

He added, “That is not the least restrictive means of tracking patients, of course, when a simple GPS tracking bracelet for example might do the trick, if a doctor thought one would be helpful for a specific patient.”

The bill doesn’t mention a tracking chip explicitly, and only mentions a tracking “device.” It does contain Fourth Amendment protections, and calls for procedures that “safeguard the privacy of the data used by the tracking device such that access to the data is restricted to agencies determined necessary by the Attorney General; and use of the data is solely for the purpose of preventing injury or death.”

Manning, however, is not buying the civil rights or constitutional language in the bill, telling the Daily Caller Tuesday, “It says it’s going to respect 4th Amend rights of the people. There doesn’t need to be a law to do this. That’s the key. They don’t have to have a federal law to do this.”

Manning points out that those with Alzheimer’s or their guardians can be capable of asking about wearable tracking devices.

“They could agree to wear a tracking device and there would be no need for a law,” Manning said.

H.R. 4919 is sponsored by Republican New Jersey Rep. Christopher Smith, and cosponsored by 90 House members.

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