Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Conservative Lawmaker Wants to Protect Privacy Rights


510f0849525fe_image_State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft is teaming up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma this legislative session to advance three bills aimed at protecting the privacy rights of Oklahomans in the face of rapidly advancing technology. The Senate author of the bill is Rob Standridge.
House Bill 1559 would prohibit the Department of Public Safety from installing Radio Frequency Identification tracking technology in a driver’s license or state issued identification card. House Bill 1557 would require law enforcement, absent an emergency, to first obtain a warrant before they access the geolocation data stored by a cell phone user’s cellular provider. House 1556 would, among other regulations, require law enforcement, absent an emergency, to first obtain a warrant before using drones for surveillance purposes and prohibits the state from outfitting drones with weapons.
“Privacy is not a partisan issue, and I am confident we will find bipartisan agreement that our laws should keep pace with technology,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “Our current laws do not contemplate RFID scanners that can collect your personal data at over 100 yards away and at 100mph, drones that can fit in your hand and can stay aloft for hours undetected, or that the government, without a warrant, can precisely track your movement with your cell phone.”
Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, pointed to the emerging drone industry in Oklahoma as evidence that it is time our privacy laws adapt to new technology.
“Those who would dismiss the need for increased privacy protections as speculative, should look no further than the growing industry in our own backyard. These technologies may seem novel to some, but the use of RFID tracking technology is already commonplace, our cell phones are already sending detailed geolocation information to our cell phone providers, and the domestic use of drones by the public and private sector will be routine in under five years.”
Wesselhoft noted that each of these technologies can serve important functions, from life-saving location data in the event of an emergency, to improving efficiencies in the private sector.
“Our goal is not to limit the legitimate roles these technologies can play, but we have to keep in mind that these technologies also have the very real potential to seriously erode privacy rights, and I urge lawmakers from both parties to support these commonsense bills that establish ground rules to secure our privacy,” said Wesselhoft.
“With these three pieces of legislation, we ensure that the people of Oklahoma enjoy the benefits of these emerging technologies, without inching towards a surveillance society in which every move we make is tracked, monitored, recorded, and reviewed by the government,” said Kiesel.

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