Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are backing a number of bills that would limit how law enforcement tracks Marylanders with drones, automatic license plate readers and by accessing email accounts and cellphones.
The package of bills, promoted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland in the wake of national privacy concerns regarding government surveillance by NSA, was announced at a press conference early Tuesday.
One piece of legislation proposed would require law enforcement to get a warrant before they track someone using their cellphone. One proposal would impose limits and regulations on aerial surveillance, protecting against police using drones for "fishing expeditions," the ACLU said.
Other legislation in the package would require police to get permission from a judge before intercepting emails and impose limits on the use of automatic license plate recorders.
"These technologies have legitimate law enforcement purposes but, in the absence of any rules governing their usage, they are fast becoming tools for routing mass tracking and surveillance," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, in a statement. "The government simply must not snoop into our email, spy on us with drones, or track us using our cellphones without a search warrant."
The ACLU is pushing for a wide variety of legislation during the 2014 General Assembly session, from the full decriminalization of marijuana to state funding for the expansion of pre-kindergarten education for at-risk children.
But one of the group's top priorities is the privacy package.
If passed, the bills would not limit the federal government's abilities to track Marylanders. But it would be a start, they say.
House cosponsors of the bills also include Dels. Alfred Carr, D-Montgomery, Samuel Rosenberg, D-Baltimore City, Michael Smigiel, R-Caroline, and Jeffrey Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department did not immediately respond for comment on its position on this package of bills.