|State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola|
So a majority of the nine-member House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has already endorsed the legislation, as have numerous Calendars Committee members, and an enviable bipartisan majority of the House has become co-authors, which (knock wood) should mean the bill, if and when it gets to the floor, will enjoy a welcoming reception. Couple that with bipartisan support for a warrant requirement in the Senate and this idea looks like it has legs. (See earlier Texas Tribune coverage.)
To me, the nascent popularity of this bill speaks to an emerging bipartisan consensus that 20th Century notions of privacy are inadequate to protect personal privacy in the digital age. The Obama Administration may oppose requiring warrants for location data and some of the law enforcement agencies aren't happy about the application of the Fourth Amendment to this purpose. But aside from special interests that actually want to engage in warrantless invasions of privacy, most people consider the idea a no-brainer. Indeed, perhaps the most common response from legislative staffers when the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition was talking with potential co-authors was, "You mean that doesn't require a warrant already?" Most people carry cell phones or smart phones (which bleed more personal information, even, than older models) and have what to them seems like an eminently "reasonable expectation" that they won't be tracked or monitored without probable cause, even if the courts and the executive branch haven't caught up to them on these questions. That's exactly the sort of situation that requires a legislative solution and it's good to see Texas legislators stepping up to the plate.
UPDATE: As of the end of the day, 3/21, we're up to 87 co-authors, meaning 92 out of 150 House members have already endorsed the bill. MORE: This bill was posted for a hearing in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Tuesday, March 26. Also on the same committee calendar, HB 912 regulating drones, bills on reciprocal discovery, and a pair of bills adjusting quantities and sentencing categories for low-level drug possession offenses. AND MORE: Apparently this issue crosses party lines nationally, too, with anti-tax maven Grover Norquist teaming up with the ACLU and the Center for Democracy and Technology for a campaign to require warrants for location data. See his essay published March 20. Federal legislation was filed yesterday on the subject but who knows at this stage what are its chances. NUTHER UPDATE: As of April 5, there were 103 co-authors, along with the four "joint" authors and the primary author Rep. Bryan Hughes.
See prior, related Grits posts:
- Bill filed to require warrant for cell-phone location tracking by law enforcement
- First MSM coverage of push to require warrants for GPS tracking by law enforcement
- Regulate GPS tracking of cell phones, electronic devices by law enforcement
- Half of law enforcement requests for personal cell phone data require only a subpoena
- Media flurry on bills requiring warrants for location tracking
- Location tracking and biometrics conference: A roundup of Grits posts
- Sen. Estes: Get a warrant for cell-phone location data
- Big Government run amok: Obama Administration says citizens have no 'reasonable expectation' the government won't track them everywhere they go