Wasting Time in the GA Short Session

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    Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Campbell) has proposed legislation that creates a special class of citizen. Apparently, politicians are more entitled to privacy than the rest of Virginians. The bill ostensibly prohibits the use of electronic tracking devices for “opposition research.” The quaint, teensy bill is lazily crafted or deviously designed.

    “We are still entitled to some privacy.” – Delegate Byron in the GPS Tracking News

    Apparently we can still put GPS devices on political figures’ persons, in their phones, on their dog’s collar…implanted…wherever. Offered January 12, the bill was filed days after Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents were attacked by a gunman outside a Tucson supermarket. It comes across as a sly attempt to prey on latent paranoia. This bill’s protections would have done nothing to change the events in Tucson and is inappropriately timed.

    A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Article 6 of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2 a section numbered 18.2-60.5, relating to placement of electronic tracking devices in or on vehicles of political adversaries; penalty.

    Neither would it have done anything to change the events that altered the political fortunes of former Senator George Allen. Tracking his vehicle had nothing to do with capturing his racist remarks. It wasn’t even Republicans who were first haunted by human trackers. Mr. Allen employed a tracker early on against Senator Webb, long before the revealing macaca moment. And that is more likely what Byron and her colleague, state Senator Stephen Newman (R-23rd) are really after: cover for Republican misdeeds with no equal protection for the privacy of the remaining citizens of Virginia.

    Here is HB 2320:

    Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

    1.  That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Article 6 of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2 a section numbered 18.2-60.5 as follows:

    § 18.2-60.5. Unauthorized use of electronic tracking device for opposition research; penalty.

    A. A person who installs or places an electronic tracking device in or on a vehicle, or causes an electronic tracking device to be installed or placed in or on a vehicle, with the intent to track the location, movements, conduct, or activities of a person who is a member of any political party or political organization for use in opposition research is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

    B. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

    “Electronic tracking device” means an electronic or mechanical device that, when placed on or installed in a vehicle, permits other persons to remotely determine or track the position and movement of such vehicle.

    “Opposition research” means the gathering of information related to a person’s activities to be publicly disclosed in any manner during a political campaign or for any other politically oriented purpose.

    “Vehicle” has the same meaning set forth in § 46.2-100.

    And for some really nifty investigative work we have:

    ‘Byron, a Republican legislator, said “we found out” that electronic spying has grown to include GPS tracking by private investigators, and it isn’t limited to campaign appearances.’ – reported in GoDanRiver.com

    Shocking, what “we found out.” Amazing revelation.

    As transparent as Byron’s motive, if she wants to ban tracking devices for all of us, so be it. But, not for a “special” class which includes her. Like she says: “…it isn’t limited to campaign appearances.” Why not extend the protection to all Virginians? Why is her privacy, and that of politicians as a class, more important than the rest of ours? There must be a method in the wording of the bill. Or it’s dumber than at first blush.