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Senate approves Biss GPS privacy bill

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The Illinois Senate has approved a measure sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) aimed at balancing privacy rights with public safety needs by requiring law enforcement officers to obtain warrants before using GPS data and other location tracking devices in a criminal investigation.

“Location tracking is just one of many technologies that have advanced rapidly beyond the capacity of existing state law to regulate their use by law enforcement,” Biss said in a statement.

“This legislation doesn’t hamstring law enforcement as they appropriately utilize these tools to carry out their mission of protecting the public, but it does affirm the constitutional protections that have always limited police activity and government surveillance,” he added.

Senate Bill 2808 would allow law enforcement to obtain a tracking order — similar to a search warrant — if they have probable cause to believe obtaining current or future location information from an individual’s electronic device is needed to solve a crime or prevent a crime from taking place.

In the absence of a tracking order, information collected through electronic surveillance would be inadmissible in court.

The legislation contains exceptions for emergencies such as responding to a 911 call, locating a missing person believed to be in danger or keeping track of a parolee or other person ordered by a court to wear an electronic monitoring device.

It also clarifies that police and prosecutors may still make use of information already available to the public, such as locations posted publicly on social media.

SB 2808 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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