- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon lawmaker who’s leaving office is planning an initiated measure to limit the powers of Oregon law enforcement officers to collect cellphone, Internet and other personal data.

Republican Sen. Larry George of Sherwood says the measure would be based on one of two bills that failed in the 35-day session now underway.

It would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from obtaining information on cellphone location, Internet browsing, email and social media accounts, TV-watching history or data from electronic devices without a warrant, consent or urgent circumstances, The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/OacEuZ) reported.

“The public is concerned about these huge databases collecting private information,” George said. “It’s going to be very easy to convince the public that something needs to be done.”

Majority Democrats said the measure was too complicated to move in the short session the Legislature holds in even-numbered years, but it could resurface next year in a longer session.

George runs a hazelnut processing business and has announced he won’t run for re-election this year. He played a key role in a 2004 land-use initiative, Measure 37, which allowed owners to claim compensation for property value lost as a result of government regulation. Its impact was largely blunted a few years later by Measure 49.

The privacy initiative would be aimed for the 2016 ballot and could incorporate elements of a second bill, which would have limited how long police can keep images from license plate readers, George said.

There’s currently no regulation on the time. The bill would have allowed 21 days unless the images warrant further investigation. Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a municipal prosecutor, and other Democrats wanted to allow the images to be kept for up to 180 days.

George said his version could have cleared the Senate with bipartisan support, but majority Democrats didn’t want to see a measure pass with largely Republican backing. “A lot of their rhetoric on privacy is just empty campaign rhetoric,” he said.

The Senate president, Democrat Peter Courtney, called it “an example of an issue that we just couldn’t resolve in a short session. The two sides were just so far apart at the beginning that they couldn’t get there.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon backed the George proposal. The group’s lobbyist, Becky Straus, said it would press police agencies that use license plate readers to adopt privacy guidelines, and it would work toward legislation next year.

“We feel like the wheels are greased for a 2015 bill on this,” she said.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com