May 162015

On February 27, 2015, California Senator Jerry Hill introduced SB 741, which “would require that require local governing bodies in California to take public comment before implementing cell phone intercept technology.

SB-741 was discussed at a meeting of the California Senate Judiciary Committee on May 12, 2015. After opening remarks by Senator Hill, Tracy Rosenberg of the Bay Area Civil Liberties Coalition spoke in favor of the bill and Aaron Maguire of the California State Sheriff’s Association spoke against the bill.

Maguire said,

We are in respectful opposition to the bill. We’re in opposition to actually several bills that are currently moving through both houses. And really it is sort of a philosophical disagreement. I agree wholeheartedly with the author about the checks and balances that we have in our system in terms of the legislature appropriating certain money and the executive branch utilizing those funds, but I think what we have here is something that goes a little bit too far, which is where the state is mandating that certain items be placed on the board agenda which is, so, with whether it’s with respect to unmanned aerial vehicles or whether its this type of technology or other tactics or other things, we just think that this simply just goes too far and for those reasons, we’re in opposition. Thank you.

After Maguire’s remarks, Senator Joel Anderson asked, “When you use this type of technology, is it considered wiretapping?” Maguire responded, “To be honest with you, Senator Anderson, as far as I know, laws with regard to state, federal, and Fourth Amendment are followed.” Committee Chair Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson noted, “That’s sort of not exactly an answer. So do you have an answer to that?” However, it was Rosenberg who responded, noting that law enforcement frequently seeks an order for a pen register, which is technology for landline telephones that judges understand. Orders for pen registers also have the advantage of not requiring probable cause – they only require that the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Towards the end of the hearing, Senators Mark Leno and Joel Leno both requested to be added as co-authors to the bill, which was passed unanimously.

Click here for the audio of the SB 741 hearing – a total of 12 minutes and 30 seconds.