ACLU of Maine and Left-Right Coalition Announce Comprehensive Privacy Package In Legislature

Privacy Advocates and Legislators Join Forces to Celebrate Data Privacy Day
The ACLU of Maine and a bipartisan coalition of legislators will hold a press conference at the State House on January 31 to commemorate Data Privacy Day and detail a legislative privacy package underscoring key priorities for protecting individual privacy. A representative of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), the largest and most comprehensive global information privacy community, will join them to discuss the importance of safeguarding privacy in the digital age.

“The people of Maine care deeply about their privacy, but outdated laws and a lack of protections make us all vulnerable to intrusion into our most sensitive information,” said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “Maine needs stronger laws that shield us from overreaching surveillance by the government and corporations, and ensure that the most personal details of our private lives stay private.”

The press conference marks Data Privacy Day, celebrated internationally on January 28, a day of awareness to educate everyone on the importance of respecting privacy and safeguarding personal information in the face of emerging technologies.

Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) is sponsor of The Maine Online Privacy Protection Act, a bill requiring operators of commercial websites that collect people’s personally identifiable information to conspicuously post and comply with a privacy policy that meets certain conditions.

"At a time when using the Internet is not just common but practically unavoidable, our personal information is more vulnerable than ever to ending up in the wrong hands," said Rep. Russell. "This bill would insure that Mainers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions online."

Rep. Michael McClellan (R-Raymond) is sponsor of An Act to Protect Social Media Privacy in the Workplace, which prohibits employers and schools from accessing passwords to the private accounts of their employees or students.

“It’s inconceivable that an employer would be permitted to read an employee’s diary or postal mail, listen in on the chatter at their private gatherings with friends, or look at their private videos and photo albums,” said Rep. McClellan. “This proposal simply ensures they cannot do the electronic equivalent.”

Also this session, senators from both sides of the aisle will introduce legislation addressing the use of domestic drones; the warrantless tracking of GPS devices including cell phones; and the warrantless collection by law enforcement of content created by cell phone users, such as text messages and text and call records.

“These bills would keep us from sliding further into a surveillance society where the government can monitor everything we do, say or write at any time, for any reason,” said Bellows.

The press conference will take place in the Welcome Center of the Maine State House on January 31 at 1:00 p.m.

Spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. The Day commemorates the 1981 signing of Convention 108 – the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. 

Many unique celebrations are planned leading up to Data Privacy Day 2013 and beyond. A list of DPD events can be found at: www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/events/

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