Ohio lawmakers hot for snooping power

Proposed law would give police immediate access to anyone's location and their private cell phone records
Tom Jackson
Jun 20, 2013

A bill that would make it easier for police to obtain cell phone locations zipped through the Senate on a 32-1 vote in April, but it has now slowed down in the Ohio House.

The Ohio House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee was poised to pass the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House floor for a vote.

But the chairman, Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, agreed to delay action until at least another week. 

His decision came after an official from the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, Maurice Thompson, testified that it would allow police to obtain cell phone records without a warrant, even in non-emergency situations.

"We were just about ready to vote this bill out," Damschroder said. "This was the first time these guys showed up." 

Damschroder said he agreed to delay action to let members give the measure a closer look.

"I wanted to give the members on the committee and everybody a chance to look at the information this gentleman produced to see if it had any merit," Damschroder said.

Senate Bill 5, authored by state senators Edna Brown, a Toledo Democrat, and Gayle Manning, a North Ridgeville Republican, says cell phone providers will immediately provide the location of a cell phone customer if police are responding to the customer's emergency call, or if the police believe there is "imminent danger" of death or serious injury if the information isn't supplied right away.

The bill also says cell phone providers can set up a system to voluntarily give up the information, and can't be sued if they act in good faith with the law.

Thompson, director of the 1851 Center, says the non-emergency provisions — allowing for voluntary disclosure of the information — mean cell phone companies can make money selling cell phone information to police, even when no crime is alleged.

"The bill authorizes wireless service providers to break their voluntarily agreed-to contracts with Ohio customers, to whom they've promised privacy, and strips Ohioans of their right to enforce these contracts, or sue for damages," Thompson said in a release from the 1851 Center.

In the Senate's 32-1 vote, the only "No" was cast by state Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood.

Skindell said Wednesday that national controversy over the fact that the National Security Agency apparently collects phone records for everyone in America has focused attention on the issue of privacy versus safety.

"We cannot just give up on our liberty to obtain absolute security," said Skindell, who ran for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2012 but lost to incumbent Terrence O'Donnell.

Skindell said the normal way to handle laws such as Senate Bill 5 is to have a general rule and then allow for exceptions.

Fixing the bill would mean requiring a warrant to obtain cell phone records, but allowing police an exception in a genuine emergency. After police invoke the exception, a court should review the matter and make sure the law was followed, Skindell said.

"They do that in other warrant situations," Skindell said.

Thompson said the 1851 Center also believes the bill should be amended to require police to obtain warrants to obtain cell phone information, with an exception for emergencies.




Watch this.


Here we go.


The loony liberal "safety over privacy" crowd oughta love this.

Give the dopey Dems along with the righteous Repubs time and they'll have an RFID chip up everyone's tush.

Licorice Schtick

Umm.... The Ohio Senate is 73% Republican.


Re: "The Ohio Senate is 73% Republican."

Article: "In the Senate's 32-1 vote, the only "No" was cast by state Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood."

Your point? Obviously, there's ONLY ONE sane Dem on this issue in the bunch.

Don't Dems believe that govt's GOOD???? WHAT'S the PROBLEM?


its a matter of trust , and thats something that has been in question for sometime , not only in goverment , but even in law enforcement

You have police that over step the bounds and do things that are in against the law and now this law may make it easier for them to keep doing it
its just big brother taken another right away from the very people that intrusted them to protect the rights .
Yes in some cases of emergancy like accidents medical and threat to life , this would be good , but to say that law inforcement can just get my phone records to keep me on the radar is in fact against my rights .And yes I am a law bidding resident for now , but the way things are going , its going to make it harder for me to stay in ohio.
You have radars that police use to write speeding tickets and camaras that take pictures and send you a ticket in the mail , you are no longer allowed to smoke in public places , what next ? Are we going to have to ask big brother if we can go to the store ? go to work ? are we going to have to have a chip put in us to track our movements ? , when does this end ?
And to think we voted these vary people into office , what a slap in the face

Licorice Schtick

Then there are infinitely more sane D's than R's in the Senate , by your criteria.

It looks like 24 R's voted for this, and 8 D's. Exactly 3:1. I think we agree this is a bad idea, but blaming liberals for it is just absurd. It is mostly the corporatocracy's Republican toadies who are being used to enslave Americans. They're pretty unified in their support, but there are a few Democrat toadies, too.


Re: "there are a few Democrat toadies, too."

On a fed level would you include Pres. Obama?

The Big Dog's back

So when all Repubs vote for something, and even if just 1 Dem votes for it, it's the Dems fault pooh? Interesting.


Kinda like the one drop theory!


Not sure why it would be loony to have safety as the top priority. I would counter that anyone who doesn't think safety is important is loony themselves, and should put their money where their mouth is by volunteering their services as a bomb-sniffing dog. Can we all agree that Contango should be first in line?

The Big Dog's back



We can put you both in a pen and keep you safe from the wolves if that's what would make you feel better.


Coasterfan, your statement betrays a mathematically illiterate conception of safety and risk.

Safety is A priority, but not the only one. For instance, there are many circumstances where slaves would be safer than free people. Life consists not of digital events, but of analog spectrums, all of which involve diminishing returns at the margins. We could virtually eliminate traffic deaths by mandating that no vehicle be capable of exceeding 5 mph, but at what cost to society in the hours lost getting places, to say nothing of the lives lost if the limitation applies to emergency vehicles, which it must if it is to truly make traffic safety universal? There are tradeoffs in everything.

Freedom comes with the cost of increased risk, and every expansion of freedom comes with a commensurate increment in risk.
Every day, normal, ostensibly reasonable people choose to prioritize some pretty frivolous things over safety.

- "Seatbelts wrinkle my clothes."
- I can't begin to count the number of lawnmowers I've seen with the engine kill bar duct taped down to the handle for convenience.
- Simply entering a pool or the lake increases risk and decrements safety in the name of recreation, as does getting on a boat or bicycle.
-Many foods taste pretty awful when cooked so as to eliminate the risk of food-borne illness.

Most thinking people would agree that esthetics, convenience, and entertainment are more frivolous pursuits tnan human freedom and dignity, and yet people take myriad risks for these causes, proving that an absolute prioritization of safety is not rhe norm among reasonable people.


Re: "lawnmowers I've seen with the engine kill bar duct taped down to the handle"

I prefer a bungee cord.

Licorice Schtick

I made a clip from coat hanger wire. Safer mowing, yet could flick the clip on to move the pet turtle out of the way without shutting down.


Re: "Not sure why it would be loony to have safety as the top priority."

History teaches us: If this power CAN be abused - it WILL be abused.

Spread 'em wide for your RFID chip insertion. It's for your OWN safety. :)

Licorice Schtick

We have a pretty good balance when it comes to auto safety. Can you imagine cars today with no seat belts, no air bags, no crash survivability? Opposing ALL regulation because it will surely lead to TOO MUCH regulation has not really proved justified.

The reactionaries have a Chicken Little problem, they squawk about non-threats; then when a real hazard to freedom comes along, they find themselves in an echo chamber with no one else listening. And their strings are pulled by the corporatocracy, which is allowed tombe careless, reckless and abusive with far more personal and private information than government will ever be able to collect. You guys are being had.


Re: "We have a pretty good balance when it comes to auto safety."

"Pretty good"? A waffling qualifier.

Are you looking forward to when all vehicles are required to have black boxes which can then be used AND abused by insurance cos., authorities, et. al?

You might wanna read, FA Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom."

ANY well intended legislation WILL eventually be abused.

i.e.: Better hope that those "well intentioned" Progressives stay in power FOREVER. :)


Re: "And their strings are pulled by the corporatocracy, which is allowed tombe careless, reckless and abusive with far more personal and private information than government will ever be able to collect."


In a free market society, one can CHOOSE whether or not to use a product or service.

In a centrally planned society, the CHOICE is made (and forced) for the so-called betterment of all.

The Big Dog's back



Licorice, most of those safety innovations came not from government regulators, but from an entrepenuer named Anton Tucker, who attempted to be a classic market disruptor to bring about positive change. The industry actually leveraged Big Government anti-free market regulations to stop him, and delay the introduction of those safety improvements by at least a decade.

I can certainly imagine cars with no airbags. I would choose to buy one if I could, because, for those who always buckle up, they are often a net safety reducer. Of course, the nannystate won't let me choose for myself.


Oh god no! They will now tax us for not only consumption but for excreation based on the RFID data logged . I see it now, getting a bill for sewer use, water use and a new paper tax will follow : )

The Brownie Elf

If they want to find me, I'll be watching American Pickers and re-runs of the Sopranos on my couch.


At least your phone will while your out robbing a bank! Great aliby!


This bill is much worse than anything the NSA is even suspected of doing.

In the past, we know from experience that anyone with an unscrupulous buddy inside a police department could get info on anyone for private purposes. The danger of abuse by private and corporate interests is even scarier that any by the government.

Skindell has it right. This bill needs the safeguards he asks for. And in addition, penalties for abuse need to be on par with federal wiretap violations.


Re: "The danger of abuse by private and corporate interests is even scarier that any by the government.”


"Private and corp. interests" don't have the power or authority to throw individuals in jail without a Writ (NDAA), nor can they confiscate your property or levy fines and penalties against them.

Licorice Schtick

Nonsense. The NSA can't do that. Other government agencies already can; they don't need this bill to do so.


Re: "The NSA can't do that."

What's the NSA got to do with this? Loony!

As an example, I wrote NDAA as the extent of the power of govt. Private entities and corps don't arrest individuals.

RE: "they don't need this bill to do so."

Right, just another extention of governmental power with it's possible and potential abuse.

So are you for this or against?


The way its worded , I am against it