Geolocation Privacy Legislation

Updated June 29, 2016

This page provides information on congressional bills that seek to clarify how personal location information may be used by law enforcement, companies, employers, and others. This page is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to influence, endorse, or express opinions on any ongoing legal deliberations.

Several U.S. states and non-U.S. jurisdictions have enacted laws establishing personal location privacy rights. However, current U.S. statute at the federal level does not provide clear protection of geolocation information.

Learn more about GPS and privacy

Transportation Appropriations Acts

BILL

The House version of the FY 2017 appropriations measure for Transportation, HUD, and related agencies (THUD) includes the following provision applicable to the Department of Transportation:

Sec. 143. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to mandate global positioning system (GPS) tracking in private passenger motor vehicles without providing full and appropriate consideration of privacy concerns under 5 U.S.C. chapter 5, subchapter II. View at congress.gov

5 U.S.C. chapter 5, subchapter II, refers to the Administrative Procedure Act.

Bill Status

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House
Subcommittee
House
Committee
House
Floor
House-Senate
Conference
Committee
House
Floor
President
5/18/2016
H.R. 5394
5/24/2016
H.R. 5394
TBD
H.R. 5394

 
Senate
Subcommittee
Senate
Committee
Senate
Floor
  Senate
Floor
 
4/19/2016
S. 2844
4/21/2016
S. 2844
5/19/2016
H.R. 2577
 

Legislative History

LAW

Congress enacted identical language for FY 2016 and FY 2015:

DOT proposes to repeal the FY 2016 provision, stating it "would limit NHTSA's GPS work." View PDF, p. 37 (4.3 MB)

The FY 2013 THUD funding bill included similar language (Section 429). It passed the House but was not enacted. View source (congress.gov)

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GPS Act

BILL

The Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act seeks to establish a legal framework that gives government agencies, commercial entities, and private citizens clear guidelines for when and how geolocation information can be accessed and used.

The bill would create a process whereby government agencies can get a probable cause warrant to obtain geolocation information in the same way that they currently get warrants for wiretaps or other types of electronic surveillance.

In addition, the GPS Act would prohibit businesses from disclosing geographical tracking data about its customers to others without the customers' permission.

Bill Status

On January 22, 2015, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) reintroduced the legislation for the 114th Congress. Their bills (S. 237 and H.R. 491) were referred to the House and Senate judiciary committees and the House intelligence committee.

Sen. Wyden and Rep. Chaffetz originally introduced the legislation during the 112th Congress, and the House judiciary committee held a hearing on it. The bills were reintroduced in the 113th Congress but saw no further movement.

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Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act

BILL

The Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act contains many of the same provisions as the GPS Act, but also includes safeguards for online communications.

Bill Status

On February, 2, 2015, Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Suzan Delbene (D-WA) reintroduced the legislation for the 114th Congress. The bill was referred to the House judiciary committee.

Rep. Lofgren previously introduced the bill in the 112th and 113th Congresses, originally as the ECPA 2.0 Act of 2012.

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Location Privacy Protection Act

BILL

The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2015 would prohibit companies from collecting or disclosing geolocation information from an electronic communications device without the user's consent. It provides exceptions for parents tracking their children, emergency services, law enforcement, and other cases.

The bill would also prohibit development and distribution of "stalking apps," establish an Anti-Stalking Fund at the Department of Justice, and take other steps to prevent geolocation-enabled violence against women.

Bill Status

On November 10, 2015, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) reintroduced this legislation for the 114th Congress. The bill was referred to the judiciary committee.

Sen. Franken introduced prior versions of the bill during the 112th and 113th Congresses, with one passing the committee level in December 2012.

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