The U.S. State of Maine recently voted on a new proposal that will require all law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant in order to track cellular phones. Many are calling this new law ‘historic’ and it came not long after the U.S. Justice department was under the spotlight for tapping cell phone communication without warrants.
On May 29, 2013, Maine’s House voted 113-28 in favor of LD 415, which would prohibit all law enforcement agencies from tracking cell phones without first getting a warrant. The proposal would allow, on the rare occasion, some warrantless monitoring of cell phones, but only in exceptional cases that might “jeopardize state or national security”.
What would make such a law so controversial is that it requires law enforcement to alert the person that was tracked within three days time from the event. The only stipulation that exempts this is if it would jeopardize the investigation on the person or persons involved. In the event that a three day notification would jeopardize the investigation, it would give the law enforcement agency 180 days before they would need to notify the trackee.
LD 415 also requires an annual report to be published on the Internet outlining the number of tracking incidents that were acted on by all law enforcement.
Those who supported LD 415 said such a law is due to the antiquity of the federally passed Electronics Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Those opposed to the law, which mainly subsisted of law enforcement personnel, said that such a law would hinder an investigation and make it harder for them to catch criminals in the act.
Just last month the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on how the FBI was operating in regards to tracking GPS-enabled devices. This hearing was to clarify the FBI’s use of a cell phone-tracking program called Stingray. Many lawmakers were concerned that the technology might be used for the wrong reasons or that the technology was in violation of a person’s privacy.