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As I See It

Laws need to keep pace with new police technology



Increases in police technology are on a collision course with personal privacy. We are seeing more surveillance cameras, including on the streets of downtown La Crosse. Many police agencies are using body cameras to show exactly what happened during police stops. But the rules are still being developed on whether those videos should be released in full, or be redacted to show the faces of, for example, sexual assault victims. This technology is developing at a rapid pace, and so lawmakers need to make sure there is a balance between solving crimes and protecting individual privacies. One new technology which seems to cross that line is the use of what are called Stingrays. These are suitcase size devices which mimic cell phone towers, allowing police to track phones even when they are not inuse, or when they have their location privacy enabled. A growing number of state and local police are using this technology, which currently don’t require search warrants to use. There is even some evidence that the FBI has required local police to sign non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from admitting they use these Stingray devices without written approval from the FBI. We should not be putting a gag order on local police, and we shouldn’t allow the use of this new technology without first securing a search warrant. The technology is changing fast, and our lawmakers need to make sure our laws keep up.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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