Utah bill would limit police access to your cellphone data

Nov 21, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 11:22 am

Rioters at the US Capitol...

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. A federal judge held the director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Corrections and the warden of the city’s jail in contempt of court on Wednesday, Oct. 13, and asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the civil rights of inmates are being abused. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had hauled the jail officials into court as part of the criminal case into Christopher Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys who has been charged in the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — On Wednesday, a proposal to limit how much data police can collect from your cellphone if you were near a crime scene passed at the Legislature.

The Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee voted unanimously to advance the proposal. It focuses on law enforcement’s use of “geofencing warrants” to access location data from anyone at a certain place and time.

Police and a person’s cellphone

The proposal would also require police to report how often they obtain a person’s cellphone data from tech companies, such as Google.

Utah bill would limit how and when police can see your old location data

In support of the bill limiting police use of your location data is Connor Boyack of the Libertas Institute of Lehi, Utah. He joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to further discuss the bill.

Dave said he has given permission to the 43 apps on his cellphone to track his location.

“What’s interesting about the example, Dave, that you were mentioning is you have the ability to deny certain apps your location. But you don’t really have the ability to deny the cellphone providers your location,” Boyack said.

Because we all carry our cellphones everywhere we go, he added carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon all track users’ locations over years to built a database. 

Innocent protesters swept up in FBI dragnet

This database helped the federal government discover who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally and subsequent attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The way that the government was able to figure out who was there is they literally drew a map — it’s called a geofence — around the Capitol, and they went to Google and Verizon and said, ‘Tell us everyone who was there.’ They were able to identify all these people who were at the location because their phone was with them,” Boyack said.

He pointed out that not everyone who attended the rally stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, clashed with D.C. police and unleashed mob violence.

These non-violent protesters “were swept up in this surveillance dragnet by the FBI because their cellphone location information was within that geofence.”

“If we don’t restrain the government’s ability to collect information on all these innocent people, it can create a lot of problems for them,” Boyack said.

He added he supports the bill now on Capitol Hill. Because it requires the government go through the traditional warrant process and that the rights of innocent people are protected.

Also, these large “geofences” that law enforcement draws needs to restrained, Boyack said.

“We’re trying to narrow it,” he said. “Just like if [police] want to come to my house, they have to be narrow and specific [in a search warrant]. We’re trying to do the digital equivalent of that.”


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Guests look over items during the opening of Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry in American Fork on ...

Mark Jones

Tabitha’s Way: Food pantry lending help to those in need

The co-founders of Tabitha's Way in Utah County joined Dave & Dujanovic on Thursday to discuss how their food pantry works and where they get their food.

1 year ago


Curt Gresseth

Ticktock: US steps closer to debt default

Robert Spendlove, senior vice president and economic and public policy officer at Zions Bank, joins the show to discuss what would happen if the federal government defaults on its debt.

1 year ago

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washing...

Mark Jones

Legal expert weighs in on the future of Rep. George Santos

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas joined Dave & Dujanovic to discuss the future of New York Rep. George Santos, who was indicted on 13 federal charges on Wednesday.

1 year ago

social media posts...

Devin Oldroyd

What is law enforcement’s role in monitoring social media posts?

An alleged gunman who killed eight in Texas left behind alarming social media posts. should law enforcement have seen this tragedy coming?

1 year ago

Sprinklers water a lawn in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)...

Curt Gresseth

Are you eligible for a landscape rebate?

Only 35 of Utah’s 329 cities qualify for the landscape rebate, which pays homeowners $3 per square foot to rip out their thirsty lawns. Cynthia Bee of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District joins the show to discuss the statewide program.

1 year ago


Curt Gresseth

Riverbanks are scary unstable now, so stay back, warns safety expert

Jason Curry, director of the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, joins the show to talk about how dangerous not only the raging rivers are now but also the banks can be deadly unstable, too.

1 year ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

Utah bill would limit police access to your cellphone data