According to an article on Ars Technica, California’s state legislature passed the Location Privacy Act of 2012 (SB-1434) on Wednesday, which would make it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before gathering any GPS or other location-tracking data that a suspect’s cell phone might be sending back to its carrier.
This is a different tack than the federal appeals court took last week in a different case. In that case the appeals court ruled that police were allowed to track a GPS coming from a suspect’s prepaid phone without a warrant.
It is clear that there remains a significant divide between courts and jurisdictions on the issue of expectation of privacy and Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues in the electronic age. It may be quite some time before these issues are decided with clarity. In the meantime the privacy debate rages on.