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HB 145 – Reverse Location or Geofence Warrants to be Prohibited

In what I think is pretty groundbreaking legislation, Representative Madinah Wilson-Anton has introduced House Bill 145, which will prohibit law enforcement and courts from requesting, issuing, or enforcing reverse warrants. Reverse warrants enable the government to obtain location data or technology search data without identifying any specific person as to which there is probable cause to believe they have committed or will imminently commit a crime.

This type of warrant will be used by fascist states to prosecute women who seek abortions outside of their Gilead states. The preamble of the bill draws attention to the historical significance of general warrants, which have long been regarded as a threat to personal freedom, privacy, and liberty. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits the use of such general warrants. However, the emergence of reverse-location court orders and reverse-keyword court orders has introduced new challenges to privacy rights.

Reverse-location court orders enable the government to obtain precise location data of numerous individuals without the need for specific probable cause. Similarly, reverse-keyword court orders allow the government to identify individuals who have searched for particular words, phrases, or websites, again without requiring evidence of probable cause. These sweeping searches, which can potentially encompass innocent citizens, raise concerns about privacy invasion and the chilling effect on freedom of speech, association, religion, assembly, movement, and the press.

The proliferation of electronic devices and apps has exponentially increased the amount of personal data recorded in our daily lives. The proposed bill recognizes that allowing the government unrestricted access to this data infringes upon privacy rights and sidesteps the requirement for individualized suspicion, which is typically necessary for lawful searches. By addressing these concerns, the legislation aims to curtail government overreach and protect the fundamental rights of Delaware citizens.

If enacted, the bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies and courts from requesting, issuing, or enforcing reverse-location court orders, reverse-keyword court orders, reverse-location requests, and reverse-keyword requests. These measures seek to establish clear boundaries and protect individuals from unwarranted invasions of privacy.

Furthermore, the bill introduces a private right of action, empowering individuals whose personal information was obtained in violation of the proposed law to seek recourse through civil actions against the responsible governmental entities. This provision aims to provide an avenue for affected individuals to hold the government accountable for privacy violations.

In civil actions brought under this section, courts may award damages, including $1,000 per violation or actual damages, whichever is greater, as well as punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, and any other relief deemed appropriate. The legislation also emphasizes the importance of considering factors such as the number of affected individuals, the targeting of constitutionally protected activities, and the persistence of violations in determining the amount of punitive damages.

Moreover, the bill mandates the suppression of evidence derived from unlawful reverse-location or reverse-keyword searches. This provision ensures that any information obtained in violation of the proposed law cannot be used in criminal, civil, administrative, or other proceedings, except as proof of a violation.

House SponsorsWilson-Anton, Baumbach, Lambert, MorrisonSenate SponsorsGay, Lockman // Richardson
House Yes VotesSenate Yes Votes
House No VotesSenate No Votes
House Absents or Not VotingSenate Absent or Not Voting

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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