The ACLU of Massachusetts is pursuing a bold privacy agenda in the 2013–2014 legislative session. The following bills, if enacted, will go a long way towards updating privacy law in our great Commonwealth, whether on our streets and roadways, in the skies, or in our computers and phones.
Learn more about our work on privacy and technology topics and about our response to the NSA's domestic spying.
Then, Take Action!
The Electronic Privacy Act: setting out warrant requirements for phone, internet, and location tracking
Sen. Spilka & Rep. Walz: S.796; H.1684
This bill would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access our personal electronic information--details of our telephone use, our contacts, our location, and our email and other communication--from the telecommunications companies we pay for phone and internet services. It would bring accepted long-standing Massachusetts law and practices governing search warrants into the digital age.
Read our testimony on the Electronic Privacy Act.
The Drone Privacy Act: regulating the use of aerial surveillance vehicles
Sen. Hedlund & Rep. Garry: S.1664; H.1357
We think of drones as controversial tools of warfare and killing, but this remote controlled aerial surveillance technology is also increasingly of interest to local law enforcement. While the Federal Aviation Administration will regulate drones' use of US airspace, it is up to state lawmakers to ensure that this emerging technology is used responsibly in Massachusetts--without weapons, of course, and not for warrantless surveillance of residents. Read more about the Drone Privacy Act.
Read our testimony on the Drone Privacy Act.
The License Plate Privacy Act: regulating automatic license plate readers
Sen. Creem & Rep. Hecht: S.1648; H.3068
Automatic license plate readers--an increasingly common technology for identifying vehicles associated with outstanding warrants, registration violations, and parking enforcement--should continue to be used for legitimate enforcement purposes, but should not be used to track innocent motorists. This bill identifies appropriate uses for ALPR technology and protects drivers' privacy by restricting government retention of license plate location information beyond those specified uses.
Read our testimony on ALPRs.
The Free Speech Act: ending surveillance of political activity
Sen. Chandler & Rep. Lewis: S.642; H.1457
Police should not monitor and track people's First Amendment-protected activity, or amass poorly defined “intelligence” about their speech and associations in giant databases.
This bill would prohibit law enforcement from collecting information about individuals' political and religious views, associations, or activities--unless it relates directly to a criminal investigation based on reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct.
Read our testimony on the Free Speech Act.
The Password Protection Act: keeping social media from snooping employers
Sen. Creem & Rep. Coakley-Rivera
A growing number of employers are demanding that job applicants and employees give them access to their private social media accounts such as Facebook, making them hand over their passwords or disclose the contents of their accounts. Schools are requiring students to do the same.
H.1707: Rep. Coakley-Rivera's bill would prohibit coercive access to social media accounts by employers.
S.852: Rep. Creem's bill would apply to both employers and schools.