Goshen News, Goshen, IN

State News

February 11, 2014

Indiana bills seek to shelter digital privacy

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Police would have to get a search warrant before they could take data off of cellphones or computer tablets or use aerial drones under bills that are still breathing in the Indiana General Assembly.

Some legislation simply requires a court warrant. One bill that would have made electronic eavesdropping without a court warrant a felony died in a Senate committee.

Concerns about government surveillance have increased since National Security Agency analyst Eric Snowden revealed that a program in which that agency sweeps up information about millions of Americans' phone calls, including the number called from, the number called and the duration of the call.

"I think with the revelations from Eric Snowden, what NSA regulates ... I think there is much greater focus on the citizens' privacy than probably any time in recent history," said Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood.

Some Indiana lawmakers are also concerned about the government using drones.

"I remember a conversation about drones a few years ago, that it would be a very long time before we had to worry about these things to come. And it didn't take very many years," Waltz said.

Drones are mentioned in a bill sponsored by Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, which covers a wide range of digital uses, ranging from passwords and police use of GPS to police drones.

"I tried to pick on as many different areas as I could," while avoiding "unintended consequences," Koch said.

He said his bill had support from law enforcement agencies. An Indiana State Police spokesman said the agency doesn't comment on pending legislation, and the director of the Indiana Sheriffs Association didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Koch said he doesn't know if any police agencies in Indiana use drones, but he wants rules in place when they do.

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