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2/27/2017 House Committee on Judiciary to hear two privacy protection bills introduced by House Minority Whip Blake A. Filippi

STATE HOUSE  --  On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the House Committee on Judiciary will hold hearings on two bills, (H-5521) and (H-5393), introduced by House Minority Whip Blake Filippi (R-District 36: Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown & Westerly) and designed to protect the privacy of all Rhode Islanders. 
House bill 5521 generally requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant prior to the use of an unmanned aerial aircraft, also known as a drone, and provides limited exemptions to the warrant requirement.  The FAA estimates there will be 30,000 drones in U.S. airspace by 2020, many of these belonging to government agencies. 
House bill 5393 would prohibit the use of Stingray cell-site simulator devices by any law enforcement agency absent a warrant – again with limited exemptions to this warrant requirement. A Stingray is a device developed for the federal government that is now being deployed by various state and local police forces throughout the country. A Stingray acts as a cell phone tower that, when activated, obtains data from all cell phones within a certain target range.
“I have grave concerns with the use of drones and Stingray cell-site simulators as standard law enforcement tools. This a question of values.  Over the last 16 years, individual privacy, which has been a bedrock of the American experience, has been and is being undermined in the name of national security and criminal justice expediency. The privacy of everyday citizens is in jeopardy as our Constitutional protections are not keeping up with rapidly changing technology. It now largely falls on the various legislatures to define the limits of law enforcement use of emerging technologies – and it is critical that we establish protocols for the use of drones and Stingrays before their widespread deployment by law enforcement,” said House Minority Whip Blake Filippi. 

For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2259