In states and local communities from coast to coast, politicians and voters have taken recent bold actions on privacy and surveillance, culminating in some big changes in policy and officeholders in the just-completed national elections.
In September, the city council in Portland, Oregon, passed the broadest prohibition ever of facial recognition technology. Portland follows the examples of San Francisco, Oakland and Boston – but ups the ante. The Portland measure not only bans this technology for police and city departments; it also bans it for public-facing businesses from stores, to restaurants, to hotels.
“Technology exists to make our lives easier, not for public and private entities to use as a weapon against the very citizens they serve and accommodate,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
No Knock Warrants
On Oct. 20, the city counsel of Aurora, Colorado, voted to ban ‘no-knock’ police raids. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam followed suit on Oct. 28, signing a ban on no-knock warrants, making Virginia the third state in the country to outlaw this practice.
Michigan Votes to Protect Electronic Communications
By a whopping majority of 88.7%, Michigan Voters approved a constitutional amendment to clarify that the government needs a warrant to inspect a person’s electronic data and communications.
Do we need national legislation to bring this same clarity to the actions of the federal government?
California Consumer Privacy Rights Act
On election day, voters in the Golden State approved Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights Act, a measure that creates a new California Privacy Protection Agency that will promulgate and enforce rules that require businesses to provide additional mechanisms for individuals to access, correct or delete data. A similar measure had failed in Washington State, though proponents vow to bring it back in 2021.