Privacy and data protection laws in the U.S. are a complex patchwork of state and federal regulations.
State Level Privacy Regulations
State governments have their own privacy rules with which technology companies and other stakeholders are required to comply. You can find a list of state privacy regulations here.
Federal Privacy Regulations
At the national level, federal agencies have passed privacy laws and developed guidelines that can help protect Americans' data. However, Congress passed many of these laws decades ago. So they do not always apply to the newest data collection practices.
Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Recently, the European Union passed the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR, while it is designed to protect Europeans' data flowing into the U.S. has implications for U.S. consumers as well since many companies have sought to implement uniform standards to ensure they are in compliance with the GDPR.
Surveillance & Law Enforcement
Law enforcement's use of technology, if not done well, can reinforce existing racial and ethnic inequalities in the criminal justice system.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides:
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 no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. U.S. Const. amend. IV.
America's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is complex. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth Amendment in a way that affords Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless searches and seizures of everything from a person's physical location, such as their homes, to their historical cellphone geolocation data (See Carpenter v. U.S., 585 U.S. ____ (2018). However, several wrinkles and exceptions to these rules create powerful loopholes that can perpetuate both intentional and unconscious racial discrimination. For example:
Stops and frisks as enabled by the Supreme Court's decision in Terry v. Ohio (warrantless searches are reasonable if a reasonable person in the police officer's shoes would have thought the facts and circumstances necessitated the search).
The "good faith" exception, which allows police officers to rely on flawed search warrants if they relied on such warrants in good faith.
Proprietary Contracts between law enforcement officials and companies that provide surveillance technologies that protect collected surveillance data from disclosure.
Work with Us
WashingTech helps stakeholders amplify privacy best practices that balance innovation against the need to protect their users' privacy and defend the Fourth Amendment.