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Count Montana well ahead of the rest of the nation in recognizing just how much cell phone metadata—calling number, the receiving number, the call length, and the callers’ approximate locations—can reveal about an individual's life. And count Montana ahead of the rest of the country in enacting privacy protections for the individual when it comes to their metadata.
That kind of “metadata” can be incredibly valuable, as law enforcement agencies discovered long before the rest of us. The cellphones we carry everywhere establish a clear log of our daily travels and can go a long way in telling the story of our lives.

In recognition of that fact, the Montana Legislature this spring passed a location information privacy bill, which requires a search warrant for location information recorded by an “electronic device.” There are exceptions to the warrant requirement, including when the cellphone is reported stolen or to respond to a cellphone user’s emergency call.

Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, signed it into law on May 6. The American Civil Liberties Union, which tracks cellphone tracking laws across the country, called it the first such state legislation.

The law doesn't just cover cell phone metadata, but requires that law enforcement get a probable-cause warrant for tracking a suspect in a criminal investigation by social networking check-ins, or via a GPS tracking device. A few states have the warrant requirement for GPS tracking, but Montana's is much broader. A location privacy bill passed Maine's legislature last week, and is waiting action from the governor. The Massachusetts legislature is expected to take up similar legilslation. Last year, California's Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill requiring warrants for location tracking, arguing it stymied law enforcement.

Montana could be leading the way for other states, being the first to enact it. It might even provide some momentum to federal legislation.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow! This is GREAT news! (13+ / 0-)

    Now, how do we know it is getting enforced?

    We still need transparency in the oversight.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:31:46 PM PDT

  •  Good luck with that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nellgwen, duhban

    Metadata knows no boundaries. It exists everywhere. That genie has left the bottle.

    "Let there be song to fill the air." R. Hunter

    by RUKind on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:34:45 PM PDT

    •  It isn't just metadata. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They may claim that is all they are reading, but they are capturing data packets, and the content is available.

      Metadata is the second lie after the "we aren't doing it" lie.

      Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

      by Gustogirl on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:52:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So the new law requires a warrant, right? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, johnny wurster

    I thought the FISC document The Guardian published was a warrant [or a legal equivalent]. How is Montanna'a new law a new requirement?

    Is this just saying that the same restrictions on the Fed gov't is also now in place for MT state law enforcement?

    If Liberals hated America, we'd vote Republican.

    by ord avg guy on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:43:08 PM PDT

  •  Till the Supreme Court overturns it, that is. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Matt Z

    As they did with MT's anti-Citizens United laws.

  •  Does the law place any restriction on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    collection or storage of location information collected by license plate readers and CCTV cams?

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:46:30 PM PDT

  •  I don't think the NSA can filter (5+ / 0-)

    ...on the front end -- according to the research I did. They have to scoop everything, including recordings of calls.

    They can only sort it out after they got it -- because of the international fire hose they are drinking from.

    It was too complicated and cumbersome to filter up front to limit and target, so they abandoned that notion.

    Of course, they can always tell Montana they are skipping their state. That should make them happy.

    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:02:16 PM PDT

  •  Way to go Montana, even if it is only a symbolic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dkmich, Matt Z

    attempt to reign in an activist John Roberts' fools' court.

  •  I wouldn't mind being spied on all the time... (0+ / 0-)

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude -- Pablo Neruda / Listen to The After Show and The Justice Department on Netroots Radio

    by justiceputnam on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:09:59 PM PDT

  •  Makes me happy. Need more of it. n.t (0+ / 0-)

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

    by dkmich on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:12:21 PM PDT

  •  Movin' to Montana soon... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrsgoo, Matt Z

    gonna be a dental floss tycoon.. (yippee-ki-yoh-ki-yay!)

    I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love / And I'm like / Please proceed, Governor. - Dave Itzkoff

    by Jensequitur on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:14:00 PM PDT

  •  Montana might be doing the right thing (0+ / 0-)

    for the wrong reason.

    My guess is that this has more to do with states rights then the protections of it's citizens. If the MBI wanted to find someone they would use the same tools.

  •  help a liberal in need of your VOTE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    i hope Markos doesn't kick me out of dailykos for this... but I need your help guys! please vote for me for the Etisalat GeekForce competition. If I win i'd get a job with good pay, health benefits and a pension plan... which is a big f**king deal to me :)

    My name is Tajinere Sagay

    Am begging y'all .... I'd be forever in your debt!

    •  You got it. Best of luck!! (0+ / 0-)

      if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

      by mrsgoo on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:43:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You should post this in one of the New Day diaries (0+ / 0-)

      with an explanation of who/why/what/where/when. It took me some digging around to figure out answers those questions. And again! Best of luck!

      if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

      by mrsgoo on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:45:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  what did they know, when? (0+ / 0-)

    Hmmm. Passed this law before all the NSA/Snowden kerfuffle broke nationally? What did they know and when did they know it?

  •  Look forward, not backward (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sure... good luck with that. This level of metadata is everywhere throughout our electronic lives on the grid. Privacy protections at this level are pretty much improbable at best. Mainly because so many systems maintained in the corporate sector require this data to actually operate. And many companies already use this data for marketing purposes.

    If this had been prohibited when the technology first rolled out then it might have been doable. But decades later it's just like throwing coins in a wishing well. So much of our infrastructure passes this data freely from server to server and tower to tower. Enacting new regulations on it would put new regulations on existing networks that could actually impact how well the systems work and thus bog them down and cost us much more per user.

    Privacy protections are something that has been overlooked for decades now as technology has grown. But expecting us to simply rollback a few decades of technology to make sweeping changes like this is a bit naive. And who is going to tell companies to stop selling our data now that they have turned it into a big moneymaking industry?

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 05:21:23 AM PDT

  •  question (0+ / 0-)

    what exactly do they mean by 'social check ins'?

    Is that saying law enforcement can't use facebook?

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:44:07 AM PDT

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