Lawmakers in Wyoming will hear a proposal to add a privacy amendment to its state Constitution.
On Friday, the Digital Information Privacy Task Force, made up of Wyoming lawmakers and citizens, recommended changing the Wyoming Constitution to specify that individuals have a right to privacy. The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee, a Wyoming state legislature committee, endorsed the recommendation to the full legislature. The legislature will vote on this privacy issue when it convenes in January.
In order to pass, the amendment must pass with a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature. Then it will be put to a vote by the citizens of Wyoming in November of 2016.
Task Force Chairman Sen. Chris Rothfuss says the proposed amendment would limit what information Wyoming could compile about its citizens. The goal is to ensure that privacy rights aren’t ignored in service of other state interests.
Senator Rothfuss says one of the driving factors behind the law is “the concern of the fact that it is relatively easy without a court action to get at a lot of your information.”
This privacy issue weighs public access to information and the constitutional right to privacy. With the new age of big data and information technology, it is not surprising that a state would want to grant its citizens protection of their own information. The next step is to regulate private companies from using personal information for marketing and advertising.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 10 other states expressly recognize the right to privacy in their Constitutions.
Maybe Wyoming can be a stepping stone for other governments to grant the right to privacy and not use its citizens' personal information against them.