Montana is widely considered to be a pioneer when it comes to digital privacy, and if Rep. Daniel Zolnikov has his way, the state will be far out in front of other states on the issue. Tomorrow, January 20, three of Zolnikov’s sponsored privacy bills are up for a hearing and he believes all three are reasonable.

"The First one is a warrant requirement for devices such as cellphones, apple watches, fit bits... you name it," said Zolnikov. "There are so many devices out there that hold private personal information and there should be a warrant requirement. Nothing crazy, just a requirement to make sure that when these devices are accessed there is a reason why.”

The second bill deals primarily with information stored online.

“It requires a warrant to obtain electronic communication such as emails, texts, snapchats, fill in the blank,” Zolnikov said. “This is important because that information isn’t on you, it is on servers so there should be a way to ensure that people’s digital communication isn’t just being obtained. The most important part of that bill is it requires notification.”

If passed, the third bill could impact the cities of Missoula and Billings where parking in some areas is monitored by license plate readers. Zolnikov says this data is being collected in a way that many Montanans would find disagreeable.

“DEA is using local law enforcement license plate reader data to create a national data base,” Zolnikov said. “Not only does this data have license plate location, times and everything, but it also includes facial recognition and pictures of people’s faces. We should limit the use of these and when they want to legalize it they have to have legislative oversight.”

Zolnikov says license plate readers at points of entry into Montana would be allowed under his proposed legislation. He says that currently the data is held indefinitely and that this is simply “inappropriate.”

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