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Rights groups want taskforce to advise on US tech legislation

08 Nov 2012

Online rights groups in the US have called upon newly elected senators to establish a taskforce to advise on the technology implications of forthcoming laws.

While neither the presidency or either house of congress changed hands on Tuesday's election, several new members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives were named. When the new congress takes the floor for its next session, user advocacy groups hope they will be better educated on the IT sector.

Corynne McSherry, director for intellectual property for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said that the incoming class of lawmakers should consider constructing a task force comprised of both federal and public sector officials which would outline key issues and advise lawmakers when considering legislation.

McSherry noted that such a group could help lawmakers avoid crafting legislation such as the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which drew widespread outcry from users and criticism from privacy groups.

"One key to winning that battle is to make sure that, from now on, the folks in DC make sure they understand the nature of the problem any given bill is intended to address, and the costs and benefits of any given solution," McSherry said in a blog post.

"To do that, they need to hear from people with a deep understanding of Internet technology, policy and civil liberties."

Meanwhile, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is asking new lawmakers to consider laws which could limit the use of unmanned aircraft for surveillance operations. Amie Stepanovich, association litigation counsel for EPIC, asked members of congress to consider laws requiring a warrant for all drone surveillance operations.

"Widespread use of drone technology increases the potential for pervasive mass surveillance of the American public by law enforcement," Stepanovich said.

"In order to prevent abuses associated with the use of this technology, a strict warrant requirement needs to be implemented for all drone surveillance, including both felony and non-felony crimes."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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