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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden again introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday to overhaul federal wildfire policy.  The bill aims to boost funding for fire prevention and treat the largest wildfires as natural disasters.  Wyden hopes the legislation will end the cycle of underfunding fire suppression efforts.

 

Currently, budgets are based on the average cost of fighting fires over the past ten years, which have underestimated actual costs.  The U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior have then been forced to take money from other important programs to make up the difference.

 

Senator Wyden also pushed yesterday for better legislation to protect privacy as it relates to GPS data.  Technology is making it easier to track people's movements, but Wydent believes we need clarification on the specific uses of GPS technology.  The "Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act" would require the governement to obtain a warrant based on probably cause before a company, like a cell phone provider, could be compelled to turn over customer GPS information. 

 

Courts have issued conflicting opinions on whether the government needs a warrant to release such information.  The Supreme Court has ruled attaching a GPS tracking device to a vehicle requires a warrant, but hasn't addressed tracking through cell phones or other devices.  

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