Wendy Kaminer comments that we all need to be more concerned about protecting our privacy from state or government surveillance. A bill introduced in the Massachusetts legislature offers an opportunity for Massachusetts residents to push back against increasing surveillance and fusion centers:
Massachusetts has a chance to take the lead in protecting individual privacy and First Amendment rights. A Privacy and Personal Data Protection Act aimed at limiting the reach and secrecy of fusion centers has recently been introduced in the state legislature. It would prohibit data collection involving someone’s political or religious views, associations or activities absent reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct, and it would afford people limited rights to access the information stored about them. Federal agents could still exempt information from state privacy requirements by labeling it classified, and whatever data Massachusetts might be prohibited from collecting could be collected by other states or by the federal government (though perhaps not accessed by Massachusetts).
But if the individual rights protected by this bill would be limited, as a practical matter, efforts to pass it could raise awareness of fusion center abuses; and passage of the bill could have significant symbolic value. Fusion centers are part of a national surveillance regime that individual states lack power to restrain and federal authorities lack will to dismantle. We can only hope that the people cease accommodating, much less celebrating, the panopticon and begin to rebel against it.
Read her entire commentary in The Atlantic.
The ACLU has produced a fact sheet about the bill, available on their site. The bills are SD 1449 and HD 1539 in the Massachusetts Senate and House, respectively.