The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.

Legislative Digest

This bill would allow a person operating a vehicle that is “approached and surrounded by a person or persons engaged in unlawful activity who has blocked the road” to use lethal force in their attempt to escape.

The bill is clearly a response to the wave of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, many of which blocked roads and traffic. These protests spawned a massive wave of reaction, with right-wingers everywhere anxious to nitpick the protests and overlook the protestors’ actual demands. Their hatred of the protestors is a visceral defense against any acknowledgement of the wrong in society. They support this bill because they want to be the ones who drive a car into protestors.

Beyond the fact that it allows for murder, it’s hard to overlook the overwhelming pettiness of the bill. Such a targeted bill is clearly not intended to better Oklahoma; it’s just a cheap way of scoring political points. The author, Nathan Dahm, even saw fit to flood his Twitter feed with reaction GIFs to show how much he was winning with his very serious bill.

This bill already has two other sponsors, Rick West and Michael Bergstrom. These two men and Dahm have abandoned the task of improving Oklahoma. Both the bill and this way of seeing politics must be rejected at all levels.

This bill, titled the “Oklahoma Computer Data Privacy Act,” would require internet-based companies to gain the user’s consent before collecting and selling data they produce. It also provides users a right to request a company to delete all of their collected information about them.

The amount of information being collected by these tech companies is absolutely massive. The bill includes location data, employment history, medical records and many other deeply personal matters. Compiled together, this data is easily enough to identify any individual in the system and locate them in the real world.

Profit is the most obvious motive for this kind of user surveillance. Other companies buy the data and use it to predict consumer choices the users will make in the future. However, once the data has been collected, it could be used for more sinister means. Companies like AT&T have already been doing surveillance work for the NSA through their private infrastructure for years. If companies with data like Google join their ranks — assuming they haven’t already — the federal government will obtain ludicrously invasive information on innocent civilians.

I don’t think this bill will stop mass data collection in Oklahoma. Most users will likely find it easier to just click “I Agree” and move on with their lives. However, it does establish a highly valuable precedent, creating the right to be forgotten. The bill also plainly states “individuals within Oklahoma have a right to prohibit retention, use or disclosure of their own personal data.” Creating this basis of digital human rights is paramount, and for this reason I highly encourage the passing of the bill.

Post Author: Justin Klopfer