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Ron Wyden speaks at TechFestNW on Friday.
Ron Wyden speaks at TechFestNW on Friday.

Whether it’s a Facebook message you send or important information stored in a Google Doc, Ron Wyden thinks Americans deserve more individual privacy rights.

The U.S. senator spoke at the TechFestNW event in Portland on Friday and explained why outdated privacy laws need to be changed in order to “reflect both the constitution and public expectations.”

Wyden, a long-time privacy advocate, noted his frustration with what’s known as the third-party doctrine, which allows government to examine your personal data that is sent through a third party business without a search warrant becuase that information is considered business record.

“People in Congress are going to argue that because you shared that data freely with Facebook, Google, Mint, Uber, Twitter, Fitbit, or Instagram, you’re choosing to make that data public,” Wyden said. “But I’m here to tell you that I’m going to fight to make sure that is not the case.”

Wyden said that when people send an email or store a document in Google’s cloud, they have an agreement with a service provider that their information will stay private.

“Neither of us have invited the government to have a peek,” he said. “Sharing this information with Google is like putting property in a safety deposit box, but the government thinks I’m putting it on a billboard out on I-5.”

There has been some recent progress on this front. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that police must have a warrant to search through a person’s cellphone.

Wyden also voiced his support for ending bulk collection of personal information, drawing a line between law enforcement access to data and intelligence gathering, and a new GPS bill he introduced with U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

You can read Wyden’s full speech here.


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