Upcoming Government Transparency Issues in the 2018 MN Legislative Session

After the 2008 elections, Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher tapped me to lead our newly formed Committee on Data Practices.  It was becoming apparent that new technologies were coming online which, left unchecked, would (1) pose serious harm to personal privacy and (2) negatively affect government transparency efforts.  Accordingly, for the past 10 years, I have championed legislative efforts in favor of open government sunshine laws while vigorously fighting for your individual constitutional right to privacy of your personal information. With the onset of law enforcement tools such as (1) cell phone exploitation devices, (2) automatic license plate readers, (3) police body cameras, (4) ignition interlock GPS tracking, the legislature was faced with crafting policies which would protect subject’s private data – but unfortunately we were not presented with the quandaries this data posed until the technologies which generated them were already deployed.  This has made it difficult to protect data and provide reasonable oversight.

In the 2018 legislative session, this problem remains ongoing.  Data practices issues which require fixing include bills fixing (1) tracking warrants for cell phone exploitation devices and (2) GPS location tracking on ignition interlock systems, as well as regulation of unmanned area surveillance (UAS) vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, and expansion of facial recognition technology usage.  Each of these areas mentioned here and previously, while not always exciting to talk about on their own, aggregate to have severe impacts with the use of metadata from other known (and sometimes less protected) data sources on individuals including, for example, travel habits, medical needs, or religious preference – all of which may subject a person to unfair heightened scrutiny based on perceived color, national origin, religion, or sexual preference.

U.S. history is rife with examples of our government treading a thin line with use of new technology which either intentionally, or incidentally, crosses constitutional lines.  One need look no further than the FBI’s immoral and illegal tactics against Martin Luther King, Jr. to see evidence of unregulated use of surveillance technology run amok.

In 2018, I will continue to fight for you at the Capitol for government transparency and for you individual constitutional privacy.

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