The use of personal electronic data has become a pressing topic in recent years. Michigan Proposal 2, an initiative on the November ballot, aims to add language to the Michigan Constitution requiring a warrant to search a resident’s personal communication data.
“I’m not sure that Proposal 2 goes far enough at this moment when we have more and more electronic data we’re generating and more and more interest from not only law enforcement but the private sector to collect our data.” — Shobita Parthasarathy, Director U of M Science Technology, and Public Policy program
Questions remain around what electronic data is actually being protected by Proposal 2, seeing as electronic data is often used in unexpected ways or without an individual’s express consent, like Detroit’s Project Green Light program.
Shobita Parthasarathy is the director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program at the University of Michigan. She says laws should protect private e-data no matter where it exists, but that the amendment may not go far enough to protect sensitive electronic information. “I’m not sure that Proposal 2 goes far enough at this moment when we have more and more electronic data we’re generating and more and more interest from not only law enforcement but the private sector to collect our data,” says Parthasarathy.
Proposal 2 also fails to address protections for biometric or facial recognition data, like the data collected as part of Project Green Light. “What happens to the data? What if I don’t consent? Whose data is it anyway? What right do I have to it? That sort of stuff isn’t covered by Proposal 2.”
Aside from the type of data that’s protected, Parthasarathy also questions whether this data should be commodified at all. “We are now in a moment where our data is being… repackaged, bought and sold all over the place, from Facebook to facial recognition technology and we don’t own any of that information, unfortunately, and we certainly aren’t getting any financial benefit from it that other people are.”
If passed, Michigan Proposal 2 would make Michigan one of few states to have laws governing electronic protections in its constitution.