Much of Americans’ lives are now online and visible to millions of people around the world, thanks to the Internet and the explosion of modern online commerce. While we are all too aware of this brave new reality and the challenge it creates, Americans should not be forced to surrender their constitutional right of privacy in exchange for security.
I am a member of the General Assembly Privacy Caucus. Below are some of the laws I authored to protect your privacy:
HB 1587 (2009) Virginia will suspend compliance with the federal Real ID program for state driver’s licenses if Virginia determines that the economic privacy, biometric data, or biometric samples of any resident of the Commonwealth would be compromised. (ID cards issued to State Police and certain other law enforcement officers are excepted.)
HB 17 (2014) A cell phone provider or a remote computing service shall not disclose your real-time location data to an investigative or law-enforcement officer except pursuant to a search warrant, except for a three day exception where an immediate danger exists such as finding lost children or disabled adults.
HB 1408 (2015): Prohibits a law enforcement officer from using any device to intercept contents of electronic communications or real-time location data from an electronic device without first obtaining a search warrant authorizing the use of the device. The law applies to portable cell towers (Sting Ray’s) or portable radar that can “listen” through concrete, except for a three day exception where an immediate emergency or danger exists such as finding lost children or disabled adults.
HB 1308 (2015): Increases the penalty from $400 to $800 per day and total fine from $4,000 to $8,000 when a person intercepts or discloses privileged communications between a husband and wife; an attorney and client; a doctor and patient; a licensed counselor, social worker, psychologist, or marriage therapist and client; a clergyman and person seeking spiritual counsel or advice.
HB 1673 (2015-Chief Co-patron): Prevented police from keeping license plate reader data for more than seven days, except for probable cause of criminal acts. Governor McAuliffe vetoed this measure.
The seizure or confiscation by police of personal property or real property without presentment of charges, representation by counsel, or conviction at a trial, for activity “assumed” but not proven to be part of illegal activity is called Asset Forfeiture. There have been many frightening examples of law-abiding citizens carrying cash from restaurant or other businesses on way to purchase supplies, etc. The money seized in such cases if often used by police departments for various uses, before the accused party has been able to plead his innocence.
This practice conflicts with the literal provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated …,” and the Fifth Amendment, “No person shall be … deprived of … liberty, or property, without due process of law;”
I introduced HB 1468 (2015) which allowed an individual to sue who was deprived of property pursuant to asset forfeiture in cases where there was an acquittal, dismissal of charges, nolle prosequi, or any other non-conviction. Suit could be filed for damages resulting from the forfeiture of such property, plus reasonable attorney fees and costs. Unfortunately, no bills dealing with asset forfeiture passed the 2015 General Assembly. Asset Forfeiture has become a major problem for citizens who are assumed to be guilty, and who must prove their innocence. Even when innocence is established, these victims have very little to no remedy to recover their stolen property. I intend to introduce legislation dealing with asset forfeiture in the next session if I am reelected.
“A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
– Thomas Jefferson