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TechNewsDaily says that, as part of the fallout from the NSA leak, there has been a “surge in proposed privacy legislation concerning devices and their growing monitoring capabilities.” In addition to the Texas e-mail law and action in Maine to restrict drone use; federal lawmakers are working toward vehicle and TV consumer privacy bills, and others are working to restrict government collection of data. Whether due to the NSA revelations or not, anti-surveillance does seem to be the latest trend in privacy law.

In the Car
Going on two years now, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) has been trying to pass the Black Box Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2414) as a response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposal requiring event data recorders (EDRs) in all new cars by September 1, 2014.

Capuano’s bill would give drivers control over EDRs and ownership of the data they contain. The bill now has the co-sponsorship of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and nine others from both sides of the aisle, and it’s on its way to the House Judiciary Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee.

On the Couch
Capuano, along with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), is also sponsoring a bill to stop DVRs and set-top boxes from observing consumers while they watch TV. It comes after reports that telecoms are exploring technology that can do just that. While the monitoring isn’t happening yet, the lawmakers say they want to get out ahead of the technology and put consumer protections in place now—particularly in light of the NSA surveillance revelations.

The We Are Watching You Act would require consumer consent prior to installing a behavior-tracking DVR or cable box in a home and would require the device to notify consumers when the tracking technology has been activated by posting “We are watching you” on the TV screen. That should be clear enough.

In Government
Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced bills to restrict the ways government intelligence agencies can collect and use citizens’ data, reports PR Watch.

Sanders’ Restore Our Privacy Act would amend the USA PATRIOT Act to “limit overbroad surveillance requests and expand reporting requirements and for other purposes.”  It would amend the “business records” section, requiring the government to show “specific and articulable facts” to justify suspicion before obtaining court approval to monitor any such records related to a terrorism suspect. The bill would also change the idea that a person “known to” a suspect is relevant to investigations. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Udall and Wyden have proposed the Nexus to Terrorism Act that would limit the federal government’s authority to collect citizens’ data without making a direct link to terrorism. The bill has garnered support from Democrats and Republicans alike and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.


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