Lawmakers propose limits to police spying -- Gazette.Net


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Two state senators — one very liberal and the other very conservative — have joined efforts in the Maryland General Assembly to protect citizens’ privacy from police unnecessarily using technology like drones to conduct searches.

Sens. Jamie B. Raskin and Christopher B. Shank, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, will introduce four bills to regulate police use of drones, automatic license plate readers, email surveillance and location tracking so as to not infringe on privacy rights.

“It’s getting Orwellian out there,” Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park told reporters Tuesday morning.

Shank (R-Dist. 2) of Hagerstown called the situation a “slippery slope.”

“I am not content to sit here and allow this current diminution of our privacy rights to get to a point that one day my children or grandchildren are going to wake up and government is constantly spying on them,” he said.

Maryland last amended its privacy laws in 1988, he said.

Yet technology has vastly outpaced the law.

Raskin said the package of privacy bills aims to create a balance between law and technology.

Specifically, absent an emergency, the bills would require search warrants before looking at citizens’ emails and online data as well as before tracking someone via their cell phone. It would impose limits and regulations on aerial surveillance by drones and prevent police from keeping, for longer than 90 days without cause, the license plate and location data collected by the automatic scanners.

In the House, the bills are cosponsored by Dels. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, Alfred C. Carr Jr. (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, Michael D. Smigiel Sr. (R-Dist. 36) of Chesapeake City and Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-Dist. 41) of Baltimore.

kalexander@gazette.net