A Campaign to #TakeCTRL of Our Privacy Sweeps the Nation (And You Thought Bipartisanship Was Dead)

What do Pennsylvania high school student Blake Robbins, Mississippi middle school student Richard Wade, Maryland Division of Corrections Officer Robert Collins, and Kim Kardashian-West all have in common? 

I suspect most people would guess nothing, but that would be wrong. It turns out they have a common affliction that impacts nearly everyone living in the digital age. Yes, that’s right, you probably have it too. Let’s take a look.

Blake Robbins wanted to use his school-issued laptop for schoolwork and to communicate with his friends, such as by email and video chat. He did not, however, want his school remotely turning on the laptop’s webcam and taking hundreds of pictures of him, including when he was partially undressed or sleeping. But that happened.

Richard Wade was a fun-loving 12-year-old boy, who liked to use his cell phone to take and share pictures with his friends. He did not, however, want his school to seize and search his phone after he got a text message from his father during “football class.” The initial intrusion snowballed into his expulsion after administrators determined that one picture on it, which showed him and a friend dancing in a bathroom while his friend held a BB gun, was “gang-related.”

Robert Collins is a veteran corrections officer who uses social media to share personal photos and thoughts with his friends and family. He did not, however, want to allow his employer to view the personal information on his social media account, but such a demand was placed upon him during his job recertification process.

Kim Kardashian-West is one of the world's most recognizable celebrities. She has used a hit reality television show and social media to enhance her celebrity by sharing nearly every aspect of her life with the general public. She does not, however, want her young children to receive the same level of exposure or to have unauthorized people view her private hospital records.

So what is the common thread? To varying degrees, all of these people, like nearly all of us, have chosen to share certain personal thoughts and information about themselves with a select group of other people. At the same time, they all want control over what personal information is shared and with whom. Unfortunately, none of them are empowered to make those choices and to enforce the limits they choose. The bottom line is that the laws that are supposed to protect the privacy of students, employees, and our personal data and communications are not up to the task.

Fortunately, today, all across the county, from Hawaii to Alabama to New Hampshire, a diverse, bipartisan coalition of state legislators will simultaneously announce state legislative proposals that, although varied, are all aimed at empowering their constituents to #TakeCTRL of their personal privacy. These bills would go far in ensuring students, employees, and everyone else has more of a say over who can know their whereabouts, track their activities online, and view information they share with friends.

For a map of the bills introduced, click here

Through these collective actions, these elected officials are making an important point: If Congress is unwilling or unable to act to protect Americans’ privacy, or takes actions that are insufficient, the states are more than willing to step up and fill the void.

There may be a prevailing sentiment in this country that we are so politically divided that we cannot work together even on issues of great importance to the American public. But that narrative does not hold up when it comes to privacy. In fact, a recent poll found that 90 percent of Americans want the next president of the United States to prioritize “protecting privacy so [Americans] have more control over our personal information.”

We don’t know if the next president will prioritize defending privacy to the degree it deserves as a core American value, but we know that the states will, and they are making a significant showing of it today.

So on behalf of Blake, Richard, Robert, Kim, and the over 97 million residents of the 16 states announcing important privacy legislation today — we say thank you.

Want to add your voice to the nationwide privacy empowerment chorus?  Help Americans #TakeCTRL of our privacy by clicking here.

Add a comment (16)
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Robert Crim

So, does this mean the ACLU is endorsing Rand Paul for President?

Anonymous

how about giving us the names of the bills in each state so that we can write letters to representatives?

Matthew Harwood

Hello Anon,

You can find more information here: https://www.aclu.org/map/takectrl-nationwide-privacy-push

As the bill links are generated in the respective states, we will be updating the map.

Chad Marlow

Thank you for your post. ACLU and our affiliates will be working very hard to get the #TakeCTRL Day bills passed, and help from advocates like yourself will be critical, especially if we can use your help in a coordinated fashion. The best thing you can do right now is to join the ACLU Action for this effort (https://action.aclu.org/secure/takectrl?ms=web_160120_privacytechnology_...) so when we engage in a letter writing campaign or petition (TBD), we can reach out to you. Please stand by, we will be seeking you help shortly!

Bob Missing

I heard on the program that N.M legislature has a bill to protect us. Need the name of the bill.

Chad Marlow

Bob:

New Hampshire has two great bills that are part of the #TakeCTRL Day effort: HB 1494 (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lsr_search/billText.aspx?id=842&type=4) and HB 1496 (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lsr_search/billText.aspx?id=848&type=4).

Randy Clemens

Privacy is especially important to many Free State Project participants in New Hampshire. There's a large base of Bitcoin users, lots of us utilize encrypted chat programs, encouraging in-person PGP key verification, and more.

NH is one of only five states to reject the overreaching federal Real ID program.

NH is the ONLY state which forbids the use of automated license plate readers by law enforcement.

The Kilton Library of Lebanon, NH was the first library in the nation to host a Tor relay node to allow for anonymous internet browsing. The Department of Homeland Security sent them a letter full of unfounded fearmongering asking them to shut it down. After overwhelming feedback from the community, the library decided to turn the node back on.

Edward Snowden will also be the headline speaker (via live video feed) at the Free State Project's Liberty Forum, taking place from February 18-21.

Close to 2,000 people have moved to NH to fight for privacy and individual rights, 18,000+ more are coming to do the same. It's why I moved here from Los Angeles, and I am so glad I did. I hope you'll look at what we're doing... see if you'd be interested in taking a stand and making history with us!

http://FreeStateProject.org http://NHLibertyForum.com

Chad Marlow

Randy:

New Hampshire has been one of the leading states in protecting privacy, you are right. Here's hoping you forces the presidential candidates to talk more about the issue as they try to earn your critical primary election votes.

Ron

Is there a way we can get any more detailed information on Each state? I'd loved to get involved, but there isn't enough information to do so.

Chad Marlow

Ron:

To learn more about each state, please visit: https://www.aclu.org/map/takectrl-nationwide-privacy-push.

To get involved, please sign the ACLU Action at the following link to we can contact you when it is time to mobilize: https://action.aclu.org/secure/takectrl?ms=web_160120_privacytechnology_...

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