An Indiana lawmaker wants to give the government access the data that companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram collect about you.
House Bill 1235, introduced Monday by state Rep. Jason Kowalczyk, would make it illegal for government agencies to use your information unless it was collected in an authorized way.
Kowalczak’s bill is one of the few bills to be introduced this session that explicitly protects the privacy of people under the age of 18.
But privacy advocates say it could create a loophole for businesses to collect and sell personal information without your permission, and could open the door for companies to collect sensitive data on Americans without your knowledge.
“What we’re seeing is an erosion of our constitutional rights,” said Jennifer O’Connor, a privacy and data expert at the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.
“It’s a huge threat to privacy and the right to privacy, and that’s why we’ve been pushing for legislation like this in the state legislature.
It’s time to get serious about protecting people’s privacy rights.”
Kowalki’s bill would allow the state to request access to your social media accounts if it’s determined by the department of social services that it is necessary to prevent or mitigate the threat of death, serious bodily injury or destruction to property from a person who has committed suicide, an emergency situation or if a person is under 18 years of age.
The department could also request access if you’re an employee or have any other relationship with the state.
A state official could also be authorized to issue a subpoena or require you to provide your personal information if the person being investigated or prosecuted is a public official, the official said.
If you have a valid subpoena, you must turn over your account information to the state, but the person may have the ability to turn that information over for other purposes.
The person could use the information to obtain a search warrant to access your account.
Kawalczack said the bill is meant to give people “the ability to protect their privacy” by “ensuring that government agencies are not inappropriately accessing the private information of citizens who have exercised their right to keep and bear arms.”
O’Connor called the bill a step in the right direction.
“But I think it’s not really about protecting privacy,” she said.
“The bill is about creating a safe haven for private citizens to protect themselves.
This is a way to ensure that they have the information they need to be able to defend themselves against these threats.
This bill gives them the ability.”
Kawalki said he has been pushing the bill in the Legislature for months, but that he had yet to hear from the public when he introduced it.
“We’ve heard from a lot of people,” he said.
“If we have a really good bill, then people will be able do what they want to do with their information.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.