Although I’m sure SB965 and HB1673 were well intended, the result is that the change could easily be interpreted to restrict the activities of sheriffs to control their jails. The language in question starts on page 1, line 40 and reads “Unless a criminal or administrative warrant has been issued, law enforcement and regulatory agencies shall not use any surveillance technology to collect or maintain personal information with such data of unknown relevance and is not intended for prompt evaluation and potential use respecting suspected criminal activity or terrorism by any individual or organization.”
The next area that I would like to draw your attention to starts on page 1, line 77 “Surveillance technology means technology used to observe people, places or activities or to collect personal information without the subject’s knowledge or consent.”
Although these two sections were probably not intended to apply to inmates in a correctional facility, I do not see any restriction or exception to the language that exempts these individuals from these requirements. As a result, I think the combination of the broad definition on surveillance technology and the definition limiting the ability to maintain surveillance to a criminal or administrative warrant has a very restrictive impact on the ability for sheriffs to control the environment in a correctional facility. I believe that the amendments that Governor McAuliff has provided the General Assembly to this bill addresses those issues. It is my hope that the General Assembly will embrace the Governor’s amendments and ensure the sheriffs have the right to maintain a safe environment in their facility.