The ACLU of Oregon often takes positions on state, city, and county proposals that would have an impact on civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU is strictly non-partisan; we never support or oppose candidates for elective office.
As the ACLU of Oregon’s new Legislative Director, the 2015 legislative session was an exciting adventure. When I started, the Oregon Legislature was already moving full steam ahead in its fourth week of session. Playing catch-up was challenging. Over a thousand bills had already been introduced. My schedule was filled to the brim meeting with legislators, collaborating with coalition partners, negotiating with opponents, researching, and testifying at hearing after hearing. Fortunately, I had the great privilege of learning the ropes from our illustrious former Executive Director David Fidanque - until he retired, two months later. And by the end of session, I looked back in amazement at everything that had transpired and how successful we were.
We care deeply about the privacy of our fellow Oregonians. As the state’s leading privacy advocates, we place responsibility on legislators to pass privacy-protective laws that keep pace with advancing technology.
Our Privacy Package At our request, bipartisan sponsors in the Senate and the House introduced three privacy bills aimed at limiting excessive government surveillance and prohibiting unreasonable and intrusive searches. It was a tough fight, as we faced significant opposition from law enforcement and district attorneys. SB 641 made it across the finish line and nowprohibits law enforcement from duplicating the contents of a cell phone without a warrant or consent. SB 639 and SB 640 would have limited government access to our online activity and location tracking information and restricted the use of automatic license plate readers. While these two bills were unsuccessful this time around, we won’t give up until we have secured these and additional privacy protections in Oregon.
Health Information We supported several successful bills that protect sensitive medical records from disclosure. We also killed a bill that would have expanded the list of individuals with unfettered access to sensitive health information in Oregon’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
Online Information We actively participated in negotiations on two bills related to the privacy of our online information after we die. We also supported a successful bill that protects K-12 students from having their private information collected, sold, or disclosed by companies that operate online learning tools.
More to be done We want to expand the right to privacy, increase the control Oregonians have over their personal information, and ensure civil liberties are enhanced rather than compromised by technological innovation. We will also continue to push for legislation restricting government surveillance, including prohibitions on warrantless access to third-party records and location tracking.
POLICE PRACTICES AND ACCOUNTABILITY
To effectively protect public safety, law enforcement must protect our civil liberties, not sacrifice them. Transparency, accountability, and fairness are necessary to ensure individual rights are respected, to curb police misconduct, and to repair lost trust between communities and police. We supported numerous successful bills reforming police practices in the 2015 legislative session, a few of which are described here.