With the Federal Government unable to agree on anything, vital privacy issues have fallen into the laps of State Legislatures. State legislatures now must deal with growing public concern about the collection and trade of personal data. In response to their constituents concern, and in the wake of Federal Government inaction, several states proposed a new series of privacy laws which range from limiting how schools can collect student data to deciding whether the police need a warrant to track cellphone locations.
The NYT Reports:
This year, Texas passed a bill…that requires warrants for email searches, while Oklahoma enacted a law meant to protect the privacy of student data. At least three states proposed measures to regulate who inherits digital data, including Facebook passwords, when a user dies.
Some of the bills extend to surveillance beyond the web. Eight states, for example, have passed laws this year limiting the use of drones, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has advocated such privacy laws. In Florida, a lawmaker has drafted a bill that would prohibit schools from collecting biometric data to verify who gets free lunches and who gets off at which bus stop. Vermont has limited the use of data collected by license plate readers, which are used mostly by police to record images of license plates.
California, long a pioneer on digital privacy laws, has passed three online privacy bills this year. One gives children the right to erase social media posts, another makes it a misdemeanor to publish identifiable nude pictures online without the subject’s permission, and a third requires companies to tell consumers whether they abide by “do not track” signals on web browsers.
With vital privacy and legal issues at stake, it is great to see State Legislatures moving forward to protect the privacy rights of citizens, while it’s business-as-usual in Washington.