Well privacy fans, I hope you enjoyed that pyrrhic victory while it lasted! On Monday, the Texas House of Representatives amended a Senate bill to require law enforcement to get a warrant (with limited emergency and other exceptions) to access detailed cell-phone location data about subscribers, information that some agencies like the Texas Department of Insurance currently get with only a subpoena. For a moment, hope abandoned was rediscovered and the world shined brighter.
Then yesterday the Texas Senate passed the House companion to that bill, HB 2268, without the
language about warrants for cell-phone location data, though it
includes Rep. Jonathon Stickland's language from HB 3164 regarding
warrants for cloud-based email stored longer than 180 days. It's now up
to the bill authors - Rep. John Frullo and Sen. John Carona - to decide
with which version of the bill they'll move forward. Both have expressed hostility toward the amendment by Rep. Bryan Hughes even though Frullo was a co-author of Hughes' original HB 1608. The House rejected Frullo's motion to table Hughes' amendment by a whopping 126-4 margin
Still possible but time is dwindling and prospects look bleak. The House will vote tomorrow morning whether to concur in the Senate amendments to HB 2268 or to send it to conference committee. Whether the House will go that far I don't know but support for the amendment on warrants for cell-phone location data was strong. See below the jump an image forwarded by an alert reader of the House vote board passing Hughes' amendment to SB 1052 on Monday. The vote was on a "motion to table" so a red "no" vote was a vote in favor of the amendment. The handful of green lights represent votes against it.
UPDATE/LAMENT: SB 1052 along with its House amendments is officially, formally, finally dead as the House on Friday concurred with the Senate amendments to its companion HB 2268 which did not include the language requiring warrants for cell-phone location data. It did, however, include a version of Rep. Jon Stickland's HB 3164 requiring warrants for law-enforcement to access old emails held by third-party service providers like Yahoo! or Google. But though it had a good run, Texas' legislation on cell-phone location data is dead for the year unless the Governor decides to add it to the "call" for a special session, a move that might make him popular with the GOP base if perhaps not with the Dallas police union.