Monday, December 09, 2013

Dewhurst assigns interim charges on electronic privacy

Grits was especially pleased to see that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced several notable "interim charges" (pdf) to be taken up by the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee in the coming year related to electronic privacy, ordering them to:
  • Examine possible measures to protect the personal privacy of Texas residents from governmental and commercial surveillance, including: (1) any necessary limits on warrantless search and seizure of data from electronic devices and wireless providers, including digital content and geolocational data; (2) any necessary protections against non consented video and audio recordings collected by private handheld and wearable mobile devices and other private surveillance; and (3) any necessary limits on warrantless monitoring of the physical location of individuals through the use of biometrics, RFID chips, facial recognition, or other technologies. Examine related measures proposed or passed in other states.
  • Review the types and scope of personal data collected by governmental and commercial entities and consider methods to minimize the government’s collection of data on its citizens. The study should include: (1) whether sufficient protections exist for DNA samples and information, including whether there should be a prohibition on the creation of DNA databases, except for felons and sex offenders; (2) methods to protect the privacy of gun owners from aggregated purchasing pattern tracking; (3) mechanisms to ensure that private health care information is properly protected; and (4) ways to ensure that previously anonymous data is not improperly reidentified and marketed. Examine related measures proposed or passed in other states.
  • Examine possible reforms designed to increase citizens' ability to know what data is being collected about them by governmental and commercial entities and with whom that data is being shared, including an analysis of consumer informed consent. Examine related measures proposed or passed in other states.
See a related press release.

Interim charges are often aimed at preparing bills that the leadership plans to prioritize during the next legislative session, though with Dewhurst facing several challengers for Lite Guv, he may or may not be around to see such legislation come to fruition. Still, assigning these charges in the midst of a heated primary campaign indicates he must think the issues resonate with the GOP base. That's a good sign.

The first charge related to warrant requirements perhaps seems more appropriately assigned to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, but either way I'm grateful to see the Lt. Governor raising the profile of electronic privacy issues and look forward to interim hearings on these topics.


Anonymous said...

I might be a little dense, but I'm confused as to why, if registrants are felons by definition, they also get their own special category of exemption from these proposed changes, ie "except for felons and sex offenders;"

Wouldn't this be a redundancy?

Anonymous said...

Now, with serious contestants vying for his chair, Mr. D.pretends that he might do things next session, if re-erected, that he has not done in what...12 yrs?

A real friend of freedom there.