Saturday, April 5, 2014

Communication Privacy Protection legislation to be introduced by Indiana Senator Brent Waltz

Beginning with the 1986 amendments to the Federal Wiretap Act of 1968, known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the United States Government has been eroding the longstanding rights of Americans to their privacy in communication. This is a point that hasn't been missed by Indiana Senator Brent Waltz who was the author of a bill to protect Indiana residents from having their personal data collected en masse by law enforcement agencies without warrants or probable cause.

Waltz became concerned about data privacy while listening to two police officers discuss searching the contents of cell phones of persons who had been detained by them. When Waltz queried the officers as to the legality of conducting a data search of someone who may have only been arrested for public intoxication where the data was not an element of the alleged offense he was told by the officers that what they were doing was absolutely legal. Waltz's search of existing law confirmed that. Waltz then introduced legislation to protect the privacy of detained suspects which was aggressively fought against by the Indiana State Police and took years to get passed into law.

Spurred by further erosion of citizens' privacy and a Missouri initiative that would restrict police access to electronic data transmitted or held by a person, Waltz plans to introduce similar legislation during the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly to add this privacy right to our constitution. When I was speaking to Waltz about this issue he broached the point of police using data collected without a warrant or probable cause in child custody proceedings. This was an astute observation as while the data may not be admissible in court all attorney-client communications as well as every file held on a device that may be relevant to a case being given to the opposing party would seriously endanger the judicial process.

While I have been working to protect electronic communications between parents and children in child custody cases I was pleased that Senator Waltz has brought this to my attention and has taken the lead in protecting the parents' communications and records from undue government intrusion.

In the upcoming legislative session I will be seeking to have a bill introduced to protect electronic communications between parents and children while Waltz will seek to add language to the Indiana Constitution that will protect everyone from undue government intrusion. Please contact Senator Waltz's legislative assistant, Mitch Osterday by email or phone, (317) 234-9425, to express your support and ask what you can do to get this proposal on the ballot.

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