The Associated Press reports on bills that would expand government surveillance powers that being debated in the Nevada legislature.
The proposals range from expanding collection of DNA for genetic analysis of criminals to creating a database of people accused of elder abuse. Others would allow government to secretly search citizens’ electronic communications and create a state repository for court records of people with mental health issues that would be shared with federal officials.
While advocates say the plans will make Nevada a safer place, critics are concerned the state may be compromising the privacy of its citizens. […]
One Senate-approved bill now working its way through the Assembly was modeled after the USA Patriot Act, which President Bush signed in 2001 and gave authorities unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists. The Nevada bill, SB82 would permit the government to conduct secret searches on electronic communications without getting a warrant from a judge.
Under the plan, state officials could require a cell phone company or Internet provider to hand over phone logs and the full text of e-mails and text messages. Even school police officers could use the authority granted under the bill.
“Somebody needs to explain to me why school district police officers need to conduct warrantless searches,” Rowland said. “We are talking really about the most extraordinary powers of law enforcement.” […]
[Assistant Attorney General Keith Munro] could not explain why the investigative powers would be expanded to school district police. He said the change was requested by the Clark County School District. […]
Another bill in the Assembly would establish a statewide registry to track people who abuse and neglect the elderly. Under AB8, a person who works with the elderly who was accused of abuse would have their name added to the database even if the person was not charged with a crime. Potential employers could use the database to screen applicants.