HB128: Electronic Device Location Amendments

Just this morning, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has issued a decision protecting cell phone location data from being collected without a search warrant. It’s Utah’s turn.

House Bill 128, Electronic Device Location Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Ryan D. Wilcox, would protect a person’s certain stored, transmitted, and location electronic data.

The 4th Amendment declares: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” Can there be any doubt today that the modern equivalent of our “papers and effects” are now housed in the digital world, and found in our pockets? Yet, despite the rash of violations across the country, there have been few protections, establishing privacy standards for private citizen’s electronic data.

HB128 works to clarify what electronic data needs to be protected to better inform law enforcement officials and citizens. This data includes GPS locations, call and messaging records, and other personal information stored on a phone or tablet.

There will be circumstances in which a user’s information will need to be collected. This bill addresses that need by allowing law enforcement to request search warrants be issued based on probable cause. However, that does not give authorization for a collection free-for-all. All other data collected that is outside the scope of the search warrant, or, more importantly, that pertains to a person who is NOT the target of the warrant, must be permanently deleted within a 24-hour period.

HB128 is working to provide a much-needed privacy boost for the electronic data that is so heavily integrated in our daily lives. It also provides a balance for law enforcement to still protect our neighborhoods while establishing set rules in an era where electronic data regulations are ambiguous.

The following study and subsequent story published in USA Today just this past December highlights many of the privacy concerns that HB 128 seeks to address.

UPDATE: The bill passed unanimously out of committee and moves to the House floor.

HB128, sponsored by Rep. Ryan D. Wilcox and will be heard in the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee tomorrow at 8:30 in 20 House. You can listen at le.utah.gov.