Governor Christie has conditionally vetoed passed the legislature that would have provided greater privacy protections.
Matt Friedman reports:
Those annoying text message advertisements that wind up costing you a few cents could soon be a thing of the past.
Gov. Chris Christie today said he agrees with a bill the state Legislature sent him to ban the messages, but suggested some changes before it becomes law.
In his conditional veto message on the bill (A617), Christie said the penalties in the bill – up $10,000 for the first offense and as much as $20,000 each time after – are too harsh.
This bill’s intent is laudatory, and cell phone customers should be able to avoid receiving unsolicited advertising text messages that result in unwarranted charges. However, this bill places its prohibitions within the Consumer Fraud Act, thereby triggering significant penalties normally reserved for fraudulent, not aggressive, business practices. Although we wish to discourage businesses from sending unsolicited text messages because they place unwarranted burdens on the consumer, it is important to note that such text messages are not automatically fraudulent or deceptive. Accordingly, I recommend placing the bill’s prohibitions outside the Consumer Fraud Act and maintaining enforcement authority with the Attorney General.
A second bill that the governor conditionally vetoed, the Reader Privacy Act (A1396), would have provided stronger reader privacy protections by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before a bookseller could disclose a customer’s personal information to law enforcement.
In his conditional veto message (pdf), Governor Christie recommended that the bill’s definition of a “book” be amended to exclude materials depicting child pornography, so as to ensure that child pornography does not receive the protections provided by the bill. Second, and “to preserve law enforcement’s legitimate investigatory needs in the isolated cases where such data could be relevant,” the governor recommended amending the bill to allow for disclosure via subpoena, thus placing the personal information of book purchasers and book borrowers on equal footing with library patrons.
Rather than weakening A1396, PogoWasRight.org recommends enacting it with the probable cause/warrant standard, and strengthening the law for library patrons to be on a equal footing with the stronger law.
Third, Christie recommended expressly prohibiting government agencies from seeking book purchasers’ personal information, unless one of the conditions permitting disclosure is met. That is an interesting – and welcome – recommendation that would actually strengthen the bill by barring the government from seeking information unless they meet disclosure requirements.