Paul C. Barton reports:
Sen. Ron Wyden wants to keep the United States from taking a step toward the totalitarian state envisioned in the novel “1984.”
The 1949 work by George Orwell depicted a society of pervasive government surveillance of citizens.
The Oregon Democrat sees that possibility in law enforcement’s use of global positioning system technology. It is ubiquitous in mobile phones and other consumer electronics, including Wi-Fi-equipped laptop computers and GPS units that people purchase for their cars.
To counter the threat, Wyden has formed a bipartisan coalition to push a bill that would require federal, state and local authorities to cite probable cause before a judge and obtain a warrant before conducting GPS-enabled surveillance.
It also would require warrants before the secret placement of tracking devices on the cars of suspected terrorists and criminals.
It also prohibits businesses that possess tracking data from disclosing it to other companies without a customer’s permission.
Wyden’s bill takes these steps by amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.
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