Friday, August 15, 2014

Date set for hearing on interim charges on electronic privacy

As predicted, hearings on the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee's interim charges regarding electronic privacy are back on now that state Sen. Craig Estes has been elevated to chairman. The committee has announced a meeting specifically on those three, related interim charges at the capitol on Sept. 16 at 8 a.m.. They'll be taking public testimony.

My hopes for the hearings are that the committee recommends a) a version of the Estes/Hinojosa/Hughes legislation to require warrants for police to access cell-phone location data, and b) new restrictions on license-plate readers including limits on how long location data can be retained.

Some parts of the interim charges, particularly related to privacy vis a vis commercial vendors, I have less expertise than with law enforcement matters and thus fewer concrete suggestions regarding privacy enhancements. But I did see a related, recent essay - a speech, actually, to the Black Hat hacker conference - that offered several thoughtful suggestions that might inform those discussions.

The Obama Administration has consistently taken the position that neither cloud-based email nor cell-phone location data should require warrants for police to access them. Texas took a huge step last session in the opposite direction, passing the nation's first requirements for police to obtain warrants to access cloud-based email and other content. During the 84th session in 2015, we have the opportunity to similarly exert leadership regarding location data - both in the form of cell-phone metadata and license plate readers. This hearing September 16 represents an opportunity for the Senate to snub the Administrations' pro-snooping positions and contrast the state as a bastion of liberty compared to the Nasty Old Feds. Plus, it's the right thing to do and the public, including the conservative base and the state's thriving tech industry, supports it. What a happy convergence of interests!


Anonymous said...

Yesterday Houston's FM92 radio station aired a session with the HPD Chief where he answered questions from listeners. One caller actually questioned him about warrantless GPS cellphone tracking and Chief responded that they are only done with warrants. Now the Chief is a decent guy but that was a bold face lie and the FM92 moderator should have taken him to task. If they are only done with warrants why would the Texas Legislature be trying to fix it? Just saying!!

The Homeless Cowboy said...

I can't help but think that, if the Obama admin thinks it's ok to scope your cloud based email then that says they are doing it and Eric Holders bunch, know it and ignore it. If we American Citizens allow this to continue happening, it is a very short leap to them being able to access any cloud based information. There are many Companies out there promoting cloud based storage. Instead of paying 500.00 for software, you an pay 20.00 a month and use their cloud based software which they promise is easy and secure. In effect they are saying, "Store your private corporate information with us, so we can look through your ideas and see if we want them, and the government can access your information at any time." Im Sorry but I find this whole cloud based storage thing a bit UN secure and not a solution that any competent person would choose. We seem to be progressing more and more toward a militaristic, police state mentality. I pray that Texas does not fall victim to this Obamaesque version of the future.

Anonymous said...

Yet another scary case out of Washington that exposes what the police are doing in this regard.