Yesterday, the California legislature passed the Location Privacy Act of 2012 (SB-1434) (the "Act). The Act requires law enforcement to obtain search warrants before gathering GPS or other location-related data from a suspect’s cell phone that it may be transmitting. The Act is now waiting signature by Governor Jerry Brown; however, he vetoed similar legislation last year.
The Act was sponsored by Sen. Leno (D-San Francisco), and supported by the ACLU of California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The subject of warrantless GPS tracking continues to be a hot topic nationally. Last week, the Sixth Circuit ruled that law enforcement can track the GPS signal coming from a suspect’s prepaid cell phone without a warrant in United States v. Skinner, No. 09-6497 (6th Cir. Aug. 14, 2012) . In issuing the decision, the Court stated that "[t]here is no Fourth Amendment violation because Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off by his voluntarily procured pay-as-you-go cell phone."
The California Senate also passed another privacy related bill earlier this week, which would prohibit colleges and universities from requiring access to students’ social media accounts. The bill also moves to the Governor’s desk for signature. A similar bill pending in the Assembly would provide similar protection to employees and job applicants as well.