Montana Legislature

Mar 24, 2013 1:16 PM by MTN News - Helena

Privacy bill debated in Helena

HELENA - The Montana House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill last week that would require government agencies and law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they could track you down by your phone.

There are several exceptions to the law, including if the device is reported stolen by the owner, for response in emergency services by the user, or if there is an immediate life-threatening situation. Otherwise, those in support say that the government tracking your phone without a search warrant is a direct violation privacy rights.

"Where you go and where your phone is says a lot about you," said Niki Zupanic with the Montana ACLU. "A person who knows all of another's travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church-goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym."

"You can always turn off the location on this device. So I question whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in something that you can turn off," said Bruce Spencer with the Montana Automobile Dealers Association.

The bill states that a violation would be a civil penalty, resulting in a fine of no more than $50.

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