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Privacy Tracker | States Respond to Citizens’ Surveillance Concerns Related reading: Infographics highlight CCPA enforcement, litigation


While states don’t have the authority to shut down National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, many state lawmakers are doing their best to enact legislation that will put limits on state and local law enforcement’s abilities. The need for limits on government surveillance of U.S. citizens is one of the few things Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on; according to a USA Today report, “the same proportion of Democrats and Republicans said they are more worried about their civil liberties than they are about terrorism.”

From cellphone location data to drones, online browsing to license-plate scanning, coast to coast and left to right, state lawmakers are proposing anti-surveillance laws. In fact, Wisconsin Rep. David Craig (R-District 83) noted, "There are so many different facets of technologies that can be misused that lawmakers need to keep our heads on a swivel." Well, in this legislative session, it seems there’s a bill out there trying to stop every one of them.

Many anti-surveillance bills have already become law, but here are some that are on their way down the pike.

Arizona Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) says she will introduce legislation requiring state and local police agencies to obtain a warrant prior to “accessing or retrieving” residents’  location data through an electronic device, reports The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet. “We cannot let technological advances sidestep the Fourth Amendment,” said Beavers, who plans to model the legislation after a Montana law.

And, as the Privacy Tracker previously reported, Sen. Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu City) also plans to introduce a bill to prohibit state and local law enforcement from providing support to the NSA and state-owned utilities from providing services to NSA facilities.

California Sens. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) have introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, which would make information collected by the NSA without a warrant inadmissible in state court. The law would also ban University of California and California State University employees from establishing “NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds,” reports Raw Story. The OffNow Coalition, a faction of the Tenth Amendment Center, helped to develop this bill along with other similar bills being considered in Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.

The Indiana House Courts and Criminal Code Committee had its first hearing on a bill that would limit law enforcement’s use of drones and other surveillance equipment on private property, reports Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) authored the bill, which requires search warrants for electronic surveillance or data collection, with some exceptions.

As previously reported, State Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-District 23) has pre-filed the Kansas Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which addresses the issue of information sharing.

Maryland Sen. Christopher Shank (R-Washington) announced plans to introduce four bills during the current Assembly that would restrict the ways local and state police use technology to monitor e-mail, location tracking through cell towers and license-plate readers, reports Herald Mail Media. Three of the four bills would require law enforcement to get a warrant, rather than a court order, prior to beginning surveillance activities, increasing the burden of proof for approval.

Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown) has introduced legislation that would put a 48-hour limit on police retention of data obtained through license-plate readers, unless it is directly related to an investigation.

Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) wants to see limits on license-plate readers (LPRs) in that state, reports Landline Magazine.

“His bill would prohibit LPRs from recording pictures of drivers, require that local department-level policies govern their use and allow the attorney general’s office to ban use of the technology at agencies found in violation,” the report states, noting, “The bill would also mandate that license-plate records collected by the readers must be deleted from data systems within 48 hours after they were collected. An exception would be made when the record is linked to criminal activity.”

Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) has filed SB 599 to restrict “the storage and use as evidence of data collected through automated license-plate reader systems.” The bill would require jurisdictions that collect data using an automatic license-plate reader to delete that data after 30 days,” according to Kraus’s website.

And, as previously reported, a resolution proposed in the state would make information including e-mails, phone records and Internet records obtained without a warrant inadmissible in court

New Hampshire
While New Hampshire is currently the only state that prohibits the use of license-plate scanners, the House will consider a bill this week to authorize their use, reports CBS.

New Jersey
The New Jersey Assembly has approved new requirements for law enforcement and fire departments’ use of drones, reports The Star-Ledger. The bill had bipartisan sponsorship and passed 74-1. While it is very similar to a bill passed in the New Jersey Senate last summer, this bill includes a warrant requirement, which sponsors say would help protect personal privacy as that technology becomes more common.

Reps. Amy H. Handlin (R-District 13) and Caroline Casagrande (R-District 11) in November introduced a bill that would require “judicial approval prior to installation or use of automated license-plate reader by law enforcement agency.”


In Ohio, HB 69 would “prohibit the use of traffic law photo-monitoring devices by municipal corporations, counties, townships and the State Highway Patrol to detect traffic signal light and speed limit violations, except in certain circumstances.”

Within the next month, Oregon lawmakers are expected to introduce at least three bills aimed at preserving privacy. The Oregonian reports the three known proposals will include one to limit the use of license-plate readers by law enforcement agencies; another to “exempt from public records laws the travel histories linked to electronic fare cards the transit agency plans to introduce in a few years,” and the last is aimed at prohibiting law enforcement agencies from obtaining cellphone location data, Internet, e-mail and social media account data and television-watching history without a warrant, except in certain circumstances. These proposals will come on the heels of the passing of a law that limits drone use by law enforcement in the state.

Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th District) is sponsoring legislation that states, “a cellular phone or other wireless telecommunications device is a tracking device when it is used to track the movement of a person and that such use requires a warrant issued by a judicial officer.”

Reps. David Craig (R-Vernon) and Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) introduced legislation last November that would limit police us of license-plate scanning. According to a Wisconsin State Journal report, “The bill would allow the cameras to be turned on only during the investigation of a crime. It also would prohibit sharing the stored information with nongovernment entities and require data destruction within 48 hours, unless it was necessary for a criminal investigation.”


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