Mainers made safer with LD415

The citizens of Maine will become just a little bit safer with the passage of LD415:

Lawmakers in Maine are putting themselves at the forefront of efforts to curb excessive surveillance by instituting new privacy safeguards.

On Wednesday, the state House voted 113-28 in favor of legislation that would in all but exceptional cases prohibit law enforcement agencies from tracking cellphones without a warrant. If enacted, LD 415 would make Maine the first state in the country to require authorities to obtain a search warrant before tracking cellphones or other GPS-enabled devices. The law would also require that law enforcement agencies notify a person that she was tracked within three days, unless they can prove that secrecy is necessary, in which case a delay can be granted for up to 180 days. LD 415 would additionally require the publication of an annual report online detailing the number of times location data were sought by law enforcement agencies.

Here’s a good way of thinking about this: If the police were to start following people around for little to no reason whatsoever – for any thing they deem to be ‘reason enough’ – we would rightly say they’ve crossed a line; at that point they would be common criminal stalkers unfit to wear a badge. That they are able to do exactly that from a remote location doesn’t change the fact that their actions need to be checked. If they can’t get court approval, then they don’t have the right to stalk people. Because, frankly, fuck that bullshit.

LD415 isn’t yet law. It has passed in the house (113-28) and senate (20-15), but it needs to go through the senate again for procedural reasons. These numbers raise an interesting question: Who are the 43 assholes who voted against civil liberties?

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