The 2015 Assembly struck a major blow for liberty this afternoon, as we passed the conference committee report for SB 965, my legislation which states that law enforcement cannot use “surveillance technology” to covertly track citizens, when there is no warrant or pending investigation.
The bill was initially directed as “license plate readers,” which have been in use in northern Virginia for the past few years — and which can still be used in a very limited capacity. However, the conference report was written broadly to address any future surveillance technologies. We don’t want to be doing this every year.
The bill went through various iterations, even in the final hours, as I worked closely with Delegates Rich Anderson (R-Woodbridge), Ben Cline (R-Lexington) and Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) to get the final version. On the Senate side, the conferees were me, Richard Stuart (R-Stafford) and Tom Garrett (R-Cumberland).
The final version passed the Senate 38-0 and the House 95-2. You really can’t beat that in terms of a unified message. Now the Governor can sign a piece of legislation, which will be a model for the other fifty states.
Special thanks to Tom Jackman of the Washington Post, who wrote a series of articles in 2014 which addressed the exploding use of LPR’s and first brought this to my attention. More special thanks to Claire Guthrie Gastanaga of the Virginia ACLU who tirelessly promoted this issue and our bipartisan solution.
Rich Anderson was a great partner in this endeavor and carried the House bill which should pass tomorrow. It was a team effort.