ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A diverse group of state lawmakers is stepping up to protect your online privacy. Minnesota lawmakers joined their counterparts from 16 other states Wednesday in announcing bills to keep the government and private companies such as Apple from collecting data, especially from children in school.
“Privacy is not about keeping secrets, it is about maintaining control over our own lives, said ACLU of Minnesota executive director Charles Samuelson, who joined lawmakers at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
Working with the ACLU, Minnesota lawmakers will introduce 6 privacy bills, including 4 that protect students. One bill locks up the data on student information systems, another protects student social media passwords, a third protects the data on students’ personal computers they bring to school, and a fourth protects the student data that companies like Apple collect when students are issued school-owned iPads for coursework.
“Apple can gather student information,” said privacy expert Matt Ehling. “They’re required in some instances to submit their names and date of birth. That goes to Apple Computer and then Apple is able to compile a marketing dossier based on the activity of that student.”
Lawmakers also want to prevent companies from forcing workers and job applicants from turning over their social media passwords.
“It’s happening,” said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis). “Employers are asking for Facebook passwords and things like that so they can go in and peruse the stuff that’s not out in the public domain.”
20 other states already have such laws on the books.
“This is a preemptive strike,” said Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover). “We want to protect people now before they’re damaged by personal information getting out into the wrong hands.”
It’s also a little known fact that, under current law, police do not need a warrant to collect any of your emails that are older than 180 days. One of the bills would close that loophole.