LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 6, 2016) – A bill introduced recently in the Michigan House would end warrantless collection of cell phone data and ban the use “stingrays” to track the location of phones and sweep up electronic communications without a warrant in most situations. Passage of the bill would not only protect privacy in Michigan, but would also hinder at least two aspects of the federal surveillance state.
Rep. Peter Lucido (R-Sterling Heights) introduced House Bill 5636 (HB5636) on May 10. The legislation would limit the use of cell site simulators, known as “stingrays.” These devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.
The bill would require police to obtain a warrant before deploying a stingray device, unless they have the explicit permission of the owner or authorized possessor of the device.
HB5636 would also bar law enforcement agencies from compelling third party communication companies to release mobile device information without a warrant. This would include actual communication content such as phone conversations, text messages and email, location information and other metadata such as identifying information.
The bill does include an exception to the warrant requirement pursuant to an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to a person. Even then, law enforcement agencies must get a court order authorizing…