Bipartisan Coalition of Lawmakers Introduce Anti-Surveillance Bills

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Tenth Amendment Center have partnered with lawmakers from 16 states to introduce counter-surveillance legislation. On January 20, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, and Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, released an op-ed through Time announcing the new legislation and calling for a partnership between conservatives and progressives.

Boldin and Romero discussed the increase in cell phone surveillance from tools like Stingrays and tracking from automatic license plate readers which track the public’s driving habits. Their concern extends not only to government institutions but corporations who are willing to capture and sell personal data of customers.

The legislation comes from both political parties spread across the United States, including the District of Columbia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Minnesota, Alabama, New Hampshire and New Mexico. The ACLU is supporting the bills as part of their campaign “#TakeCTRL: Nationwide Privacy Push.” The campaign offers a map showing the participating states and explanations of each bill introduced.

The bills deal with personal data privacy, location tracking through Stingray cell site simulators, Automatic License Plate Readers, employee and student social media privacy, and protection for students personal technology on campus. Each bill offers protections that guarantee the right for each individual to be in control of maintaining their private, personal information.

Boldin and Romero wrote, “Americans have grown tired of hearing stories like that of former college hockey player Megan Donahue, who quit her team because she did not want to give her coaches access to her social media accounts, or high school student Blake Robbins, whose school remotely accessed the webcam on the laptop it issued him and took pictures of him while he undressed.”

Another focus of the bills is to force law enforcement agencies to get a warrant if they desire to use new technologies to access someone’s private communications. When it comes to corporate access to Americans’ data, the coalition is calling for corporations to get “clear and express permission to do so.”

As the ACLU and Tenth Amendment Center recognize, the laws have not kept up to pace with technology that is being employed by the military and law enforcement. If every state passed their legislation and enacted privacy protections such as warrants it would still not stop invasions by federal agencies which are also known to have similar technology.

The coalition ends their letter with a call for unity and action.

“We know that this is a fight that will continue, but with conservatives and progressives standing united, it’s a fight we can win.”