California Location Privacy Act of 2012

By: ACLU of Northern California

The California Location Privacy Act (SB 1434) authored by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and co-sponsored by the ACLU of California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation updates California privacy law to reflect the modern mobile world by providing needed protection against warrantless government access to a person's location information.

Most Californians are now carrying tracking devices every day- their mobile phones, tablets, and more. While the location data from these devices can make it easy to get directions or locate the closest coffee shop, that location data also says a lot about you – where you go, what you do, and who you know. Many location-aware technologies can track your location in real time, as well as record this data to create a detailed log of your whereabouts for months or even years.

State public records act requests by the ACLU have revealed that law enforcement is increasingly taking advantage of outdated privacy laws, written before GPS and other location-aware technologies even existed, to access sensitive location information without adequate judicial oversight.

Without strong safeguards for location information, Californians are left to wonder and worry that if they use mobile technology, their personal information will be left unprotected. Creating clear and robust safeguards for location information will be good for consumers and for the adoption of new technology.

SB 1434 makes the necessary updates to California law to protect sensitive location information consistent with the express right to privacy in the California Constitution.

  • Under SB 1434, no government entity shall obtain the location information of an electronic device without a warrant issued by an officer of the court.
  • SB 1434 also guards against abuses of long-term monitoring of an electronic device by limiting search warrants for location information to a timeframe no longer than is necessary, and not to exceed 30 days.


After passing the California Senate and Assembly with bipartisan support, Governor Brown vetoed the bill

SB 1434 Fact Sheet (pdf)

SB 1434 Bill Langage

Location Information Do You Know Where Your Privacy Is

Location-Based Services: Time For a Privacy Check-In<

Press Release for SB 1434

No Warrant? No Problem [Press Here - Video]

California Location Privacy bill moves to full Senate vote (Los Angeles Times)

Faced with Opposition from Wireless Industry, CA Legislators Make the Wrong Call

Wireless Industry Admits: "Working Day and Night" to Hand Over Your Location Info to Police

Wireless providers side with cops over users on location privacy (CNET)

Cellphone industry opposes California location privacy bill (ars technica)

Police Are Using Phone Tracking as a Routine Tool (New York Times)

The Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

ACLU Wins Round in Battle Against Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking