Call me old-fashioned but I still believe Vermonters are entitled to private lives. That’s why I’m increasingly concerned with the deterioration of meaningful privacy in this technological age.
Privacy used to be a concern primarily for celebrities. Now everyday Americans can find little refuge from the private companies and government agencies who keep track of our every move and transaction. Companies like Google inspect our every keyboard stroke while we’re online; telecom providers like AT&T give our emails and texts to the National Security Agency; and local law enforcement use cruiser-mounted cameras to track our movement on the roadways.
Technological innovation has moved too quickly for the public to preserve privacy on terms we choose. Yes, public safety and efficient commerce require some sacrifices, but the people should set the terms of those trade-offs.
In January, a Republican colleague and I introduced S.18, An Act Relating to Privacy Protection. While not comprehensive, the bill addresses four privacy-related topics—the use of license plate-reading cameras by police departments, the use of commercial and government drones, inappropriate access or disclosure of a person’s medical records and the release of private commercial information to government agencies.
In October, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be convening four meetings to explore these and other privacy issues further. The meetings will be on Oct. 13, 14, 21 and 22, with a public hearing the evening of Oct. 21. All Vermonters are welcome to attend.
If you are unable to attend but wish to express your opinion on privacy issues, please email me directly at email@example.com.
I hope you are enjoying the beginning of autumn and feel free to contact me with questions or comments on this or any other state issue.
State Senator Tim Ashe