Defending Our Basic Rights and Freedoms
Corporations are making money selling your personal information...
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This article was written in 2015. California privacy laws may have expanded, changed, or been repealed. Read the following purely as example of how privacy laws can be enforced.
The state of California is the furthest along in establishing privacy laws for its people. This includes medical privacy, internet privacy, as well as laws that restrict businesses, medical facilities, the internet from using your personal information to make money for themselves. After all, do you receive a check from the profits they make off of you?
California Privacy Rights Include:
Public Record Exemption for Sex Offense Victims – California Government Code section 6254 and California Penal Code section 293. These laws prohibit the disclosure of the names and addresses of victims of specific sex-related crimes in documents provided in response to requests for records, including responses provided under the California Public Records Act.
Domestic Violence Victim Privacy – California Civil Code section 1798.79.8 This law prohibits a domestic violence victim service provider from being required to reveal the personally identifying information of its clients or potential clients as a part of applying for or receiving grants or financial assistance for its services. It defines “victim service provider” to mean a non-governmental organization that provides shelter or services to victims of domestic violence.
Medical Information, Collection for Direct Marketing Purposes – California Civil Code section1798.91. This law prohibits a business from seeking to obtain medical information from an individual for direct marketing purposes without, (1) clearly disclosing how the information will be used and shared, and (2) getting the individual’s consent.
Medical Information Confidentiality – California Civil Code sections 56-56.37.This law puts limits on the disclosure of patients’ medical information by medical providers, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, and many businesses organized for the purpose of maintaining medical information. It specifically prohibits many types of marketing uses and disclosures. It requires an electronic health or medical record system to protect the integrity of electronic medical information and to automatically record and preserve any change or deletion.
Court Records: Protection of Victim and Witness Information – California Penal Code section 964.This law requires the district attorney and the courts in each county to establish a procedure to protect confidential personal information regarding any witness or victim contained in a police report, arrest report, or investigative report submitted to a court by a prosecutor in support of a criminal complaint, indictment, or information, or by a prosecutor or law enforcement officer in support of a search warrant or an arrest warrant.
The state of Virginia has no procedure in place to protect an individual’s privacy regarding public court records. Instead of protecting victim/witness information, Virginia has the opposite law –> Virginia Freedom of Information Act
Disposal of Customer Records – California Civil Code sections 1798.80 – 1798.81 and 1798.84.These sections require businesses to shred, erase or otherwise modify the personal information when disposing of customer records under their control. It provides a “safe harbor” from civil litigation for a business that has come into possession of records containing personal information that were abandoned, so long as the business disposes of them as provided in the statute.
Electronic Eavesdropping – California Penal Code sections 630-638. Among other things, this law prohibits, with exceptions, electronic eavesdropping on or recording of private communications by telephone, radio telephone, cellular radio telephone, cable or any other device or in any other manner. It prohibits cable TV and satellite TV operators from monitoring or recording conversations in a subscriber’s residence, or from sharing individually identifiable information on subscriber viewing habits or other personal information without written consent (section 637.5).
Electronic Surveillance in Rental Cars – California Civil Code section 1936. This law prohibits vehicle rental companies from using, accessing, or obtaining information relating to a renter’s use of a rental vehicle obtained using onboard electronic surveillance technology, except in limited circumstances. It requires rental companies to obtain a renter’s consent before using or disclosing information about the renter’s use of the vehicle.
Employment of Offenders – California Penal Code section 4017.1 and Penal Code section 5071 and California Welfare and Institutions Code section 219.5. Prison and county jail inmates may not have jobs that give them access to personal information. The same prohibitions apply to offenders performing community service in lieu of a fine or custody.
Identification Devices, Prohibition on Bodily Implanting – California Civil Code section 52.7. This law prohibits a person from requiring, coercing, or compelling any other individual to undergo the subcutaneous implanting of an identification device. The law specifically requires that it be liberally construed to protect privacy and bodily integrity. The law also provides for the assessment of civil penalties for violation, as specified, and allows an aggrieved party to bring an action for damages and injunctive relief, subject to a 3-year statute of limitation, or as otherwise provided.
California’s Internet Privacy Laws
Virginia’s Constitution includes none of these policies.
- Personal Information Collected on Internet – California Government Code section 11015.5. This law applies to state government agencies. When collecting personal information electronically, agencies must provide certain notices. Before sharing an individual’s information with third parties, agencies must obtain the individual’s written consent.
- Public Officials, Online Privacy – California Government Code 6254.21. This law prohibits posting or displaying on the Internet the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official, as defined, if the official has made a written demand not to disclose his or her information. Entities receiving such a demand must remove the information immediately and ensure that it is not reposted.
- Reproductive Health Care, Online Privacy – California Government Code section 6218 and following. This law protects the personal safety of reproductive health care providers, employees, volunteers, and patients by prohibiting the posting of any such person’s home address, phone number, or image on the Internet, under specified circumstances.
Federally, Virginia does NOT have the above privacy rights. There are no federal laws requiring businesses to provide their clients a list of the companies they’ve shared your personal information with.
Federal Healthcare Privacy Laws
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). – HIPAA includes provisions designed to save money for health care businesses by encouraging electronic transactions and also regulations to protect the security and confidentiality of patient information.
This ensures almost none of the privacy rights that California’s Constitution does.
Virginia and California’s Constitution, Section 1.
Virginia’s Constitution: Section 1: “Equality and rights of men. All men are free by nature and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter in a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest they prosterity; namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, with which the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing happiness and safety.”
California’s Constitution: SECTION 1. “All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”
Which constitution sounds like the Bill of Rights winner to you?
In Virginia, are we sacrificing privacy for safety? How safe do you feel with no privacy?
Let’s empower ourselves. Companies should not have the right to make money off of your personal information without your permission and without providing you access to their actions. We deserve to make purchases, own lines of credit, receive medical care, and participate in a court of law without giving up our privacy. You’ve seen above a few of the many ways our privacy can be used against us.
Let’s follow California’s example! Let’s make some amendments to the law!
Privacy Update (5/4/17): Good news in Virginia!
Power to the People!
Communications VP / Webmistress