Texas proposes one of nation’s “most sweeping” mobile privacy laws

If signed into law, cops would finally need a warrant to get location data.

This is an example of good government. A government that understands that it is not the duty of the state to micromanage and nose in on the people it serves.

ARS Technica:

Privacy experts say that a pair of new mobile privacy bills recently introduced in Texas are among the “most sweeping” ever seen. And they say the proposed legislation offers better protection than a related privacy bill introduced this week in Congress.

If passed, the new bills would establish a well-defined, probable-cause-driven warrant requirement for all location information. That’s not just data from GPS, but potentially pen register, tap and trace, and tower location data as well. Such data would be disclosed to law enforcement “if there is probable cause to believe the records disclosing location information will provide evidence in a criminal investigation.”

Further, the bills would require an annual transparency report from mobile carriers to the public and to the state government.

Under current federal case law and statute, law enforcement generally has broad warrantless powers to not only track suspects in real-time based on their phone data, but also to access records of where and when calls were made or text messages were sent or received—and all of this is provided by the carriers.

“Location information can reveal a great deal about an individual’s professional and personal life—her friends and associates, her participation in political or religious activities, her regular visits to a health clinic or support group, and more,” said Chris Conley, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

“That’s why we think it is essential that the government get a search warrant, approved by a judge, before demanding this kind of information from cell phone providers. The Texas bill would require just that. In addition, the Texas bill would also require companies to report how often they receive such demands from law enforcement and how much information they disclose. This kind of transparency is essential to carry on an informed dialog about appropriate law enforcement powers in the modern world.”

Broad powers

The unanimous 2012 Supreme Court decision on United States v. Jones ruled that law enforcement did not have the authority to track a suspect using a GPS tracking device put on a car without a warrant. But cops frequently use similar tactics with lower legal standards, including using the suspect’s own phone against her. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Department of Justice to release GPS tracking-related memos.

The bills, which were introduced in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate last month, are endorsed by the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition. That’s an umbrella group that includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin, Grits for Breakfast, Texans for Accountable Government, and the ACLU of Texas. They will need to pass both houses and be signed by the state governor, Rick Perry, before becoming law.

California “Millionaires Tax” to treat mentally ill, used for other purposes…..

No matter what the tax is, it is sold to help fund “the children”, “the sick”, “the disabled”…. and what kind of sick greedy capitalist bastard are YOU to oppose it!! YOU HATE CHILDREN!!

The good ole “bait and switch” is almost the oldest trick in the book, and is used by the left as a matter of routine.

[Editor’s Note: For more on how the Proposition 63 Tax was a failure and how the resources were misused and eventually misappropriated to pet projects click HERE.]

Mercury News – Prop 63 hasn’t solved California’s mental health care crisis:

If President Barack Obama wants a model for solving the nation’s mental health care crisis, he needs to find a better one than California.

Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg urged Obama to adopt California’s Proposition 63 as the nation’s model following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., which raised awareness of mental health as well as gun control issues. Steinberg has asked Obama to consider matching dollar for dollar the money that states put into their mental health programs.

Proposition 63, approved by voters in 2004, was sponsored by Steinberg. It has, indeed, been good at raising money. The 1 percent tax on millionaires’ incomes has netted more than $8 billion over eight years.

But what does California have to show for it? Fewer psychiatric hospital beds, fewer doctors treating patients and fewer clinics across the state. An estimated 750,000 California adults failed to receive mental health treatment they needed last year.

And if California is making any progress in reducing the use of its jails and prisons to warehouse the mentally ill, it’s news to us. About half of the counties in the state have no inpatient psychiatric services.

The formula for distributing Proposition 63 money allocates significant amounts to counties for new programs for new patients rather than older but still-needed programs for longtime patients. And last year’s budget cuts made matters worse. While Proposition 63 raised $1 billion in dedicated funding, the Legislature took $798 million of nonrestricted money away from other mental health programs.

The result is a two-tier system in which a wave of new programs is flush with cash while long-standing programs serving the vast majority of patients are crunched for money.

“If we could fund the programs we need, we could greatly reduce the number of people in our jails and prisons,” says Jessica Cruz, executive director of California’s branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, who supports the Proposition 63 programs but thinks more money is needed for others. “We could help reduce the number of mentally ill crowding our hospital emergency rooms and the homeless wandering our streets.”

A Department of Justice study found that 56 percent of state prisoners and 64 percent of local jail inmates have symptoms of serious mental illnesses. And 75 percent of those inmates received no treatment while incarcerated. Three out of every four people with serious mental illnesses can be successfully treated for a fraction of the annual cost of $47,102 of housing an inmate in California’s prisons.

Cruz notes that only 2 percent of mentally ill people are violent. If California could reach them before their problems manifest themselves in horrific fashion, we could make communities safer, save taxpayers money any improve the lives of thousands who now have nowhere to turn for help.

Five-Point Action Plan for President Obama to Reduce Violence by the Mentally Ill

By our new friend D. J. Jaffe.

[Editor’s Note: D. J. Jaffe maintains a list of links and information about mental health policy. His work is a must read for anyone interested in public safety.]

President Obama said the federal government has to do something meaningful to prevent future shootings, like the recent massacre of 26 children and adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.  Here is what the federal government can do to prevent violence related to mental illness:

1. Start demonstration projects of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (e.g. Kendra’s Law in New York, Laura’s Law in California) throughout the country. AOT allows courts to order individuals with mental illness to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community. It is only applicable to the most seriously ill who have a history of violence, incarceration, or needless hospitalizations. AOT is proven to keep patients, the public, and police safer. The Department of Justice has certified AOT as an effective crime-prevention program.  But mental-health departments are reluctant to implement AOT because it forces them to focus on the most seriously ill. Demonstration projects would help mental-health departments see the advantage of the program. (For why some people with serious mental illness refuse treatment, see this. See also how Assisted Outpatient Treatment laws (Kendra’s Law in NY and Laura’s Law in CA) keep patients, the pubic and police safer

2. Write exceptions into the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) so parents of mentally ill children can get access to medical records and receive information from their children’s doctors on what is wrong and what the children need. Right now, for reasons of “confidentiality,’ doctors won’t tell parents what is wrong with their kids or what treatment they need, even as they require parents to provide the care.  As a result, when a child goes off treatment, the parents’ hands are tied. They have all the responsibility to see the person is cared for, but none of the information or authority to see it happens. We have to change the patient confidentiality laws so parents can help prevent tragedies rather than become a punching bag for the public when something horrific happens.

3. End the Institutes for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion in Medicaid law. This provision tells states: “If you kick someone out of the hospital, we will pay you 50% of the community care costs.” This causes states to lock the front door of hospitals and open the back door, regardless of whether the community is an appropriate setting. If you have a disease in any organ of your body, other than the brain, and need long-term hospital care, Medicaid pays. Failing to pay when the illness is in the brain is federal discrimination against persons with mental illness. I wrote on Medicaid discrimination for the mass market in the Washington Post, but John Edwards wrote a more scholarly paper on ending the IMD Exclusion. Relatedly, a proposal made by former vice-presidential candidate Ryan, under which Medicaid was block-granted could solve this problem.

4. Create a federal definition of serious mental illness, and require that the vast majority of mental-health funding go to it. Due to mission creep and the tendency to diagnose normal reactions of people as a mental “health” issue, government agencies now claim that 40 percent or more of Americans have a mental ‘health’ issue.  Worst, most mental “health” funding currently goes to this group of the highest functioning. But only 5 to 9 percent of Americans have a serious mental illness. That’s where we should be spending our money — on the 5 to 9 percent who are most likely to become violent and need help, not the worried well. There is more than enough money in the mental-health system to prevent Newtown-type incidents, provided it is spent on people who are truly ill, not the worried-well. I wrote on this for a mass market on Huffington Post, but a much more scholarly paper was written by Howard H. Goldman and Gerald N. Grob. With the fiscal cliff approaching, prioritizing the most seriously mentally ill for services is more important than ever.

5. Eliminate the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA). SAMHSA is the epicenter of what is wrong with the American mental-health system. SAMHSA actively encourages states to engage in mission creep and send the most seriously ill to the end of the line. They provide massive funding to organizations that want to prevent mentally ill individuals from receiving treatment. They have nothing positive to show for their efforts in spite of a massive bureaucracy that meets and meets and meets and never accomplishes anything. I wrote on this for a mass market in the Washington Times and Huffington Post. But Amanda Peters wrote a terrific scholarly piece on SAMHSA for a law journal.

If Obama is serious about wanting to do something, the steps above would be the best first step. True, the mental-health industry may throw a fit as they find themselves obligated to serve the most seriously ill, but it’s the right thing to do. Anything else could be deadly.

Here is what states should do.

States should make greater use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment, especially for those with a history of violence or incarceration. AOT allows courts to order certain mentally ill people to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community. AOT works. New Yorkers remember Larry Hogue, the “Wild Man of 96th Street,” who kept getting hospitalized, going off meds, terrorizing neighbors, and going back into the hospital.  Connecticut does NOT have an AOT law on the books (see these facts about the Connecticut mental-health system), and we can’t say for sure if it would have helped in this case, but all states should have one to prevent similar incidents.

• 
States should make sure their civil-commitment laws include all the following, not just “danger to self or others:  (A) Is “gravely disabled”, which means that the person is substantially unable, except for reasons of indigence, to provide for any of his or her basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, health or safety, or (B) is likely to “substantially deteriorate” if not provided with timely treatment, or 
(C) lacks capacity, which means that as a result of the brain disorder, the person is unable to fully understand or lacks judgment to make an informed decision regarding his or her need for treatment, care, or supervision.

• When the “dangerousness standard” is used, it must be interpreted more broadly than “imminently” and/or “provably” dangerous.

State laws should also allow for consideration of a patient’s record in making determinations about court-ordered treatment, since history is often a reliable way to anticipate the future course of illness. (Currently, it is like criminal procedures: what you did in the past presumably has no bearing, so the court may not know past history when deciding whether to commit someone.  In fact, there are ways to know which mentally ill individuals become or are likely to become violent.)

– D. J. Jaffe is executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org.

Rand Paul Wins! Obama Administration finally answers a straight question with a straight answer!

Senator Rand Paul: “For 13 hours yesterday we asked him that question. Under duress and under public humiliation the White House will respond and do the right thing.”

 

Why have members of the House and Senate, in the case of the video below Senator Ted Cruz, has to go through rhetorical gymnastics to get Obama’s Attorney General to answer a simple question.

The question Senator Cruz is asking is a crucial legal distinction, if there is no imminent danger such as Pearl Harbor or 9/11, the Constitution demands that such a person be arrested, not summarily executed.

This is important to get nailed down because previously President Obama asserted that he has the right to be judge, jury and executioner but said “don’t worry we won’t use it that way”. Also, the Obama Administration, has a habit of using lawyerly rhetorical slight of hand to answer a question not being asked so that they have plausible deniability.

CIA Nominee Brennen, and Attorney General Holder gave slippery non-responsive answers to Senator Rand Paul’s questions when he wrote to them trying to get a straight answer, hence the epic Rand Paul filibuster.

It is also important to keep in mind that Attorney General Holder has been caught lying to Congress more than once and is facing a civil lawsuit from the House for lying.

Attorney General to Rand Paul answer

Senator Rand Paul explains why this issue is so important: