Bill requiring warrant for GPS tracking signed into law

Paige Leskin, Reporter

Gov. Pat Quinn signed off Tuesday on a bill sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that will add regulations on how law enforcement acquires GPS tracking data.

Effective immediately, the legislation requires law enforcement to first obtain a court order before accessing information from a tracking device that shows an individual’s current or future location. The order must show probable cause that the person whose location is requested has been or will be involved in a crime.

Biss said that as more innovative technologies are developed, there’s been a growing need to regulate to what extent law enforcement can use them in their policing methods.

“This is one of many areas where technological advances have suddenly made possible unprecedented intrusions into what most people would consider their private lives,” Biss said in a news release. “The law signed today, along with the legislation we’ve passed to regulate the domestic use of drones, acknowledges the important role new technology can play in protecting the public, while at the same time drawing a line to preserve reasonable expectations of privacy.”

The law also states that location information that has been secured without a warrant is deemed inadmissible in court. There are exceptions to the need for a court order in cases of emergencies, such as locating a missing person, responding to a 911 call or tracking an individual who is required by a court to wear an electronic GPS monitoring device.

The Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2012 that addressed the need for a warrant to procure GPS tracking data in police investigations. However, the court’s decision was limited to only require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracking device to a person’s car.

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