In Maryland, A Left-Right Alliance on Surveillance

Some issues lend themselves well to cooperation between liberals and conservatives who can both see the need to limit the arbitrary power of government. One prime prospect: the dangers to individual privacy of government surveillance run amok. This week in Annapolis several members of the Maryland legislature held a press conference to announce that they would push for an agenda of reforms setting out rules for law enforcement’s use of techniques including phone location tracking, automatic license plate readers, email surveillance, and drones. The group is led by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Silver Spring), one of the strongest liberals in the state legislature, and Sen. Chris Shank (R-Hagerstown), one of the strongest conservatives. Here (quoting verbatim) is the summary provided by the ACLU of Maryland

  • Email surveillance. Legislation to require that law enforcement go before a neutral arbiter and prove that the information they are obtaining is likely to turn up evidence of a crime before intercepting and accessing online data.
  • Location Tracking. Legislation to require that law enforcement get a warrant based on probable cause prior to obtaining mobile phone tracking information.
  • Drones. Legislation to impose limits and regulations on aerial surveillance that would protect against police fishing expeditions, and abusive use of these tools.
  • Automatic License Plate Recorders. Legislation that would keep law enforcement from storing records of license plates and locations that are not ‘hits’ against any database.

Others sponsoring the bills include Democratic delegates from Baltimore City and Montgomery County as well as Del. Mike Smigiel (R-Eastern Shore), a prominent supporter of Second Amendment rights. 

Looks like something worth keeping an eye on.