Privacy Advisor

State Legislature Roundup

May 3, 2013

Several state legislatures have been considering a variety of privacy bills during the past week. Here’s a brief roundup of the activity being noted by media outlets:

Transparency and Data Disclosure

California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) has pulled legislation that would have required businesses to provide consumers with the data they’ve collected on them, Silicon Valley News reports. Lowenthal did vow, however, to bring back AB1291 next year. “Californians don’t need to be persuaded that they should be able to ask a business what it knows about them,” she said. “But in the legislature, it has become clear that we still have our work cut out for us.” It has been widely reported that tech companies have lobbied hard against the proposed legislation.

ACLU Attorney Nicole Ozer wrote, “If companies are fighting so hard against this basic transparency bill and are scared to even tell us what’s happening to our personal information, they must be doing a lot of things that we wouldn’t like.”

SB501 did pass the California Senate on Thursday. This bill allows parents to remove their children’s personal information from social networking sites. Tech companies have argued that the mandate would be impossible to implement, the report states.

Data Breach Notification

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed legislation that would require state agencies to notify residents of a data breach “as soon as possible.” Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), the legislation follows several breaches affecting the personal information of nearly 400,000 residents. Pileggi said, “there is no good reason to delay public notification after a data breach.”

Employee Social Media Privacy

Arkansas’ governor has signed into law a bill preventing employers from requesting or requiring an applicant or employee to provide their social media usernames and passwords, according to HR.BLR.com. There are exceptions to the restrictions, however, as publicly available information is permissible for employers to view. The Texas House has also “tentatively” approved similar social media legislation. Texas Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Dallas), author of House Bill 318, said, “This is about protecting the privacy and freedom of speech of an individual.”

Drone Privacy

The Huffington Post reports on various measures being taken by state legislatures nationwide to restrict the domestic use of drones. In 39 state legislatures, 85 bills and resolutions have been proposed to curb drone use, the report states. ACLU Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley said, “If drones are going to find a place in American life and commerce, then the privacy questions are going to need to be put to rest.”

Cellphone Privacy Court Ruling

The Florida State Supreme Court has ruled this week that police need to obtain a warrant prior to accessing a suspect’s cellphone data, Tampa Bay Times reports. Chief Justice Fred Lewis said “a warrant was required,” but in their dissenting opinion, Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston warned the majority decision “has the potential to work much mischief in Fourth Amendment law.”

-IAPP Staff