Mar 312015
 March 31, 2015  Posted by  Featured News, Laws, Surveillance

The ACLU of Virginia today leveled strong criticism at amendments proposed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe that would gut important bi-partisan privacy legislation passed during the 2015 General Assembly Session unanimously or almost unanimously by both houses of the Virginia legislature. In a letter sent to the Governor today outlining its concerns, the ACLU of Virginia urged him to rethink these amendments and join the members of the General Assembly in opposing them when the General Assembly returns for the reconvened session on April 15.


House Bill 2125 and Senate Bill 1301 would require law enforcement and regulatory agencies to get a warrant from a court before they could use a drone, except in certain emergency circumstances, like Blue and Amber alerts and in situations not involving law or regulatory enforcement. As presented to the Governor, the bills prohibit evidence obtained by a drone without a warrant from being used in criminal and enforcement proceedings. The Governor’s amendments would gut the warrant requirement in the legislation. As passed by the General Assembly, the legislation would strengthen privacy protections beyond the protections now offered by the Fourth Amendment as interpreted by the courts in pre-digital age decisions. If the Governor’s amendments are accepted the new statutory warrant requirement becomes meaningless.

House Bill 1673 and Senate Bill 965 would clarify that current Virginia law (the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act) prohibits  law enforcement agencies from using mass surveillance technologies to collect and store personal information (including license plate numbers) unless engaged in an active criminal investigation. The bills would create an exception to current law that allows the use of license plate readers to collect personal information and keep it for a maximum of seven days, unless part of an ongoing investigation. The Governor’s amendments would eliminate restrictions on the use of mass surveillance technologies by law enforcement and allow law enforcement to maintain data collected by license plate readers for 60 days or more depending on whether the data is related to a criminal investigation.

Read more on ACLU of Virginia is also all over these proposed amendments:

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is all but gutting a bill that would have seriously restricted police surveillance powers, caving to the wishes of the law enforcement community and riling up privacy advocates and the public.


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