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house Bill H.R. 4889

Giving Law Enforcement Your Cell Phone Location Data if You're in Serious Danger

Argument in favor

This is a commonsense bill, if there’s a reasonable belief that a person is in serious danger and law enforcement are trying to respond then cell phone providers need to turn over location data.

BTSundra's Opinion
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05/23/2016
As long as the information isn't being given to the Feds, this seems like a reasonable measure.
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pgshpak's Opinion
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05/23/2016
Rarely do I support more power for police, but this honestly seems like a good idea, and one that I don't see leading to more abuse of power.
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John's Opinion
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05/24/2016
Given the narrow set of circumstances under which this bill could be invoked, and that it gives up no information other than location (not your phone data, people. Read a book), I see no serious objections to this, and it could save lives in an emergency.
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Argument opposed

This bill offers protection to providers that make a good faith effort to provide needed information, but doesn’t set a punishment for those that don’t or obstruct the process.

Caleb's Opinion
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05/23/2016
This sounds like a good idea, but there needs to be repercussions in place for misuse of this. What happens to the police officer who illegally uses this to locate a person of interest? This tool could be used to enforce a police state. Add in some repercussions for misuse, and then I'll reconsider my support.
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Creighton's Opinion
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05/23/2016
This was a very tough decision, but when it comes down to a tough decision I ere on the side of privacy and freedom. I feel the distrust of law enforcement makes this as tough a decision as it is.
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Betsy's Opinion
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05/24/2016
This begins a slippery slope. First, a law to send location information in an emergency. Next, a law that sends location when the police want to track you or the government wants to track you for whatever they deem a good reason. No thanks. I will keep my privacy. In an emergency, the police will arrive too late anyway. They can only hope to avenge you. You are responsible for protecting yourself.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Rejected May 23rd, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 229 Yea / 158 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Communications and Technology
    IntroducedMarch 23rd, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 4889?

This bill would require telecommunications providers (like Verizon or AT&T) to share data about where a call from a mobile phone or through an internet voice service originated if asked by law enforcement to help locate a person who is believed to be in serious physical danger.

Only a law enforcement officer who’s responding to an emergency call where the person is in danger of serious bodily harm or death could request this information from the provider.

Government entities wouldn’t be allowed to pursue take civil or administrative actions against providers or individuals that provide information in good faith.

Impact

People who need to be located because they’re at risk of serious bodily harm; telecommunications providers; and law enforcement officers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4889

$0.00
The CBO estimates that the cost of implementing this bill would be negligible.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) introduced this bill to ensure that law enforcement can access mobile providers' location data when trying to locate a person in danger:

"What happened to Kelsey Smith was an absolute tragedy. This bill, named in her memory, will give law enforcement officials more effective tools to try and prevent horrible crimes like this from happening again. It provides a narrow emergency exception that preserves the privacy of cell phone users, but removes red tape so police can act quickly in an emergency. It strikes the right balance, which is why we’ve seen more than twenty states pass similar legislation."

This legislation was passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a voice vote, and has the support of three cosponsors — including two Republicans and one Democrat. In the 113th Congress, it was also passed by the committee but didn’t receive a floor vote. 23 states have passed versions of this bill, and a variation has been proposed in the Canadian province of Alberta.


Of Note: This legislation is named after Kelsey Smith, an 18 year old from Kansas who was abducted after grocery shopping and murdered. Police found her car and immediately began searching for her, but her cell phone information wasn’t turned over for four days and when it was, authorities found her in 45 minutes. Her provider had said that it couldn’t turn over location data.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Daniel Rehn)

AKA

Kelsey Smith Act

Official Title

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require providers of a covered service to provide call location information concerning the telecommunications device of a user of such service to an investigative or law enforcement officer in an emergency situation involving risk of death or serious physical injury or in order to respond to the user's call for emergency services.

    As long as the information isn't being given to the Feds, this seems like a reasonable measure.
    Like (17)
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    This sounds like a good idea, but there needs to be repercussions in place for misuse of this. What happens to the police officer who illegally uses this to locate a person of interest? This tool could be used to enforce a police state. Add in some repercussions for misuse, and then I'll reconsider my support.
    Like (53)
    Follow
    Share
    This was a very tough decision, but when it comes down to a tough decision I ere on the side of privacy and freedom. I feel the distrust of law enforcement makes this as tough a decision as it is.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Rarely do I support more power for police, but this honestly seems like a good idea, and one that I don't see leading to more abuse of power.
    Like (7)
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    Share
    No. I just don't trust the law to use this as its intended
    Like (6)
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    This begins a slippery slope. First, a law to send location information in an emergency. Next, a law that sends location when the police want to track you or the government wants to track you for whatever they deem a good reason. No thanks. I will keep my privacy. In an emergency, the police will arrive too late anyway. They can only hope to avenge you. You are responsible for protecting yourself.
    Like (6)
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    911 is behind Dominos in its ability to track a cellphone call. We need to fund their own tracking system, not rely on cellphone companies to answer location calls all day long for free. We also need to protect people from unnecessary invasions of privacy. This bill seems destined to be used inappropriately.
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    I agree with the concerns about misuse of this measure.
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    With a warrant yeah, but no law needed then
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    Given the narrow set of circumstances under which this bill could be invoked, and that it gives up no information other than location (not your phone data, people. Read a book), I see no serious objections to this, and it could save lives in an emergency.
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    Privacy is a legitimate concern and a fundamental American right- everyone should be concerned about its protection. At the same time, we can balance this right with empowering our law enforcement experts with improved tools to keep us safe. Giving police this tool makes me feel much more secure and enables our civil servants with more tools to do the very tough job we ask of them.
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    This is a slippery slope. Give away this permission and next they will be reading our messages. I understand the need for this but the application will almost be certainly wrong.
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    NO! Sounds like a police state idea. First to give aid, then control.
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    No need for a warrant? Just what the police state would love. All they would need is to say, "we have reason to believe John Doe is in danger, where is he?" We've seen how honest the police can be when they claim they feared for their lives before shooting unarmed teenagers, the handicapped, seniors, and animals.
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    Seems common sense
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    I am in favor of this so long as it is not used in investigation crimes without a lawfully issued warrant based on probable case. This type of location technology also needs to be given to all 911 operators responding to calls from cell phones.
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    I'm always more concerned with a citizens right to privacy over the interest of the state.
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    Too much power to the government
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    Who determines if I'm in actual danger?
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    Too great a potential for abuse...and loss of freedom.
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