For Immediate Release

Contact: Jana Kooren, jkooren@aclu-mn.org, 651-485-5925

Minnesota Joins Nationwide, Bipartisan Effort To Empower Americans to #TakeCTRL of Their Privacy

ST. Paul, MINN – Today a group of Minnesota lawmakers, including Representatives Lesch, Scott, and Lucero along with Senators Dibble and Limmer, will ask their legislative colleagues in Minnesota to focus on the issue of student and personal data privacy, and to support their legislation, which would make important advancements in protecting the privacy of all Minnesota residents.

The announcement in Minnesota is one of 17 taking place simultaneously throughout of the country — from Hawaii to North Carolina, from Minnesota to Alabama, and from New Hampshire to New York to New Mexico — with a diverse, bipartisan coalition of elected officials and citizens coming together to tell the nation they care about their digital privacy and are willing to join together to fight for it. The message from these collective actions by the states is clear: where 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. Together, these states have introduced a range of new legislation that includes protections for student privacy, location tracking and personal data.

The multi-state effort is using the Twitter hashtag #TakeCTRL. To view photos from the events around the country and learn more about the nationwide effort click here.

“Today, I rise in solidarity with legislators in states across the country in standing up to affirm our states’ and nation’s commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy,” said Representative John Lesch. “The privacy bills I and my colleagues will be introducing are commonsense measures that would make important advancements in protecting the privacy of students, employees and all Minnesotans. The citizens of this state and nation should feel that governments is working to protect their privacy, not violate it.”

“Every person should have the power to decide who they want to share personal, private information with. Privacy is not about keeping secrets, it is about exercising control over our own lives,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director, and American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.  “We’re grateful to the Minnesota Legislators for their efforts today, which affirms that privacy remains a core value in our state and throughout the United States of America.”

"As a high school student I am deeply concerned about my rights online,  school officials should be protecting the privacy and free speech rights of their students, not encroaching on them," stated Mahad Olad, Senior at Brooklyn Center High School. "I hope the legislature passes legislation that protects the constitutional rights of  high school students across Minnesota."

The bipartisan actions by the states, which are intended to highlight the strong and diverse nationwide support for legislation that empowers people to take control of their privacy, are mirrored by the results of a recent poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, which found that 90% of Americans believed (73% of them “strongly”) that the next president should make “protecting privacy so we have more control over our personal information” a policy priority.

The 16 states plus the District of Columbia joining in today’s announcements represent 30% of the nation’s states; their bills have the ability to impact over 100 million people; and they collectively account for 169 electoral votes. 

Additional Background:

  • State Electronic Communications Privacy Act – modernizes current law to ensure that there are reasonable privacy protections for individuals’ electronic data.
  • Student Information System privacy: Require stronger protections on how and where students’ private data is stored.
  • School issued technology program privacy: Create stronger privacy protections for students who use school issued computing devices (such as iPads, laptops etc.)
  • Student tech on campus privacy: Gives students the same privacy protections regarding their personal technology devices that all people are given when not on school grounds.
  • Student social media privacy: Protect student’s privacy on social media, and ensure schools cannot force students to give them access, except under certain circumstances
  • Employee Social Media Privacy: Protect employee’s social media account, by prohibiting employers from forcing employees or job applicants to provide access to their accounts.
  • This article summarizes a 2014 ACLU case. A parent complained about a student (Riley’s) Facebook chat with her son. The school called Riley into the principal’s office and demanded her password to access her Facebook page. The student was ultimately suspended for posting on Facebook that she thought a school hall monitor was mean. Riley’s mother sued, was awarded $70,000, and the school district adopted a new policy concerning access to student passwords.
  • There is broad support in the state of Minnesota to strengthen privacy protections, which is evidenced through polling and previous legislative actions.  A poll conducted last year by Liberty Minnesota found that 85% of respondents think the government should be not able to view their phone data, pictures and emails without probable cause. 
  • States that announced privacy legislation: Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

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