040914cm1277SPRINGFIELD — Legislation State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored to strengthen the privacy protections of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act has received House approval and is on its way to the governor's desk.

"As conversations about this new technology have gone forward, we've all learned more about its potential benefits and drawbacks," said Biss, who spearheaded last year's successful push to make Illinois the first state in the nation to regulate drones. "I'm confident that the law we are now fine-tuning will protect Illinois residents' civil liberties but also enable the use of some very valuable tools for law enforcement and disaster response."

The law Biss sponsored last year prohibits police from using a drone (an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of taking photographs and recording audio and video) without a search warrant except in certain clearly defined emergency situations. The legislation the Senate passed in March and the House approved today clarifies that unless a judge has issued a warrant, individuals and businesses cannot be required to hand over to the authorities information their privately owned drones collect.

Senate Bill 2937 does allow law enforcement to acquire information from a private drone without a warrant if necessary to prevent a terrorist attack, imminent harm to a person or the escape of a suspect; collect images of a crime scene or traffic accident scene or locate a missing person or disaster victim.

The legislation passed both legislative chambers without opposition and will become law if signed by the governor.

Category: Press Releases

040914 js 0106SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured Senate passage today of legislation that would crack down on "patent trolling" – the practice of extorting money from businesses by threatening to sue them for fictitious violations of patents that may have expired or may not be owned by the "trolls" at all.

"As we consider ways to make it easier for businesses to operate in Illinois, it makes sense to ensure that our laws prohibit scams that cost them money and valuable time," Biss said. "Small businesses, unable to afford protracted legal battles with would-be scammers, are particularly vulnerable."

The legislation, Senate Bill 3405, prohibits a variety of activities engaged in by patent trolls, such as misrepresenting one's self as the owner of a patent, seeking to enforce an expired patent, falsely claiming to have filed a patent lawsuit or falsely accusing a person or company of a patent violation with the intent of forcing a settlement. A violation would be a business offense punishable by fine or civil penalty.

Next, the House will consider the measure.

Category: Press Releases

Innovative approach would provide retirement security at no cost to state or businesses

040914cm1346SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured Senate passage today of the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act, an innovative solution to the private sector retirement security crisis. More than 2.5 million Illinois workers — more than half the state's private sector workforce — do not have access to retirement savings plans through their employers.

"We're facing a looming retirement security crisis: 2.5 million Illinois workers lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans," Biss said. "Unless we act now to help give Illinois residents the tools to save, the number of retirees living in poverty will continue to grow. The Secure Choice program will have a minimal impact on the state and participating businesses, but the effect for workers will be the difference between a retirement in dignity and a retirement in poverty."

Secure Choice would give portable savings accounts (similar to traditional IRAs) to all employees of businesses with 25 or more workers that have been in existence for at least two years and don't already offer retirement plans. Other businesses could participate voluntarily. Automatic withdrawals would invest three percent of workers' paychecks in their accounts each pay period, but any employee could change their contribution rate or opt out at any time. Participants would also be able to select from higher-risk and lower-risk investment options.

Neither the state nor employers would contribute to Secure Choice retirement accounts; pooling the individual accounts would simply allow for lower fees and diversified, professionally managed investments. All administrative costs would be covered by participant contributions. Businesses would not be responsible for running or funding the program, nor would they be liable for the performance of their employees' investments.

"We know that automatic enrollment is the only way to ensure that workers, particularly those in low-wage occupations, don't retire into abject poverty," Biss said. "Establishing these portable, low-risk accounts is the most efficient and least intrusive way to help hard-working Illinois residents safeguard the dignity of their later years. It's also a solution that puts little to no burden on the state or employers."

Category: Press Releases

040814 js 1751SPRINGFIELD — The Senate has approved a measure, sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), aimed at balancing basic privacy rights with legitimate public safety needs by requiring law enforcement officers to obtain warrants before using GPS data and other location tracking devices in a criminal investigation.

"Location tracking is just one of many technologies that have advanced rapidly beyond the capacity of existing state law to regulate their use by law enforcement," Biss said. "This legislation doesn't hamstring law enforcement as they appropriately utilize these tools to carry out their mission of protecting the public, but it does affirm the constitutional protections that have always limited police activity and government surveillance."

Senate Bill 2808 would allow law enforcement to obtain a tracking order — similar to a search warrant — if they have probable cause to believe obtaining current or future location information from an individual's electronic device is needed to solve a crime or prevent a crime from taking place. In the absence of a tracking order, information collected through electronic surveillance would be inadmissible in court.

The legislation contains exceptions for emergencies such as responding to a 911 call, locating a missing person believed to be in danger or keeping track of a parolee or other person ordered by a court to wear an electronic monitoring device. It also clarifies that police and prosecutors may still make use of information already available to the public, such as locations posted publicly on social media.

SB 2808 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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