California bill allows wireless carriers to sell location information in secret

The California Location Privacy Act, a 2012 bill that would require authorities to secure a warrant before obtaining electronic location information, is heading for a floor vote but without its most critical provisions.

The provisions would require wireless carriers such as AT&T and Sprint to report the number of times location information was requested, how many times the government requests were appealed, and the number of users whose location was disclosed. A fine provision. One that would go a long way in ensuring user privacy wasn’t sacrificed at the altar of national security and garden variety crime.

The reporting provisions are, of course, casualties of wireless carrier lobbying and typical government machinations. The government always resists transparency until the populace creates enough noise, while carriers are able to charge handsome fees for their disclosures. It’s a quid pro quo relationship. A perfect illustration of the corporate-governing elite axis that permeates American politico-economic culture.

And what was the reason given for the opposition to the provisions? Undue financial burden.

According to the CTIA – The Wireless Association’s Jamie Hastings, Vice President of External & State Affairs, in a letter to the California State Senate, the provision would “unduly burden wireless providers and their employees, who are working day and night to assist law enforcement to ensure the public’s safety and to save lives.” This coming from multi-million and billion dollar businesses in the state of California.

Well, if they’re working so hard to save lives, why not work night and day to ensure they, and the government, are not usurping the privacy and civil rights of American citizens?

Senators Curren Price Jr. (D-Inglewood) and Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) voted for the bill with the reporting provisions removed.

Read more about the bill over at EFF.

[Image via Shutterstock]