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16 states unveil privacy protection measures

The bill, which has the support of the ACLU, focuses on protecting student and employee data.

While US lawmakers and Congress beg tech companies to give them encrypted user data access, many states are going in a different direction. With help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), sixteen of them including New York, Alabama, Illinois and Alaska are launching bills to protect residents' private data. The proposed laws differ from region to region, but focus on several areas. Most states want to prevent schools from gathering private student data, and Hawaii wants to ban employers from accessing workers' private social media info. Other measures are aimed at limiting "stingray" cellphone snooping and license plate data collection.

The ACLU cited several examples illustrating the need for such laws. In one instance, a school issued a laptop to a student, then used it to take pictures of him in his bedroom while he was sleeping and partially dressed. In another, a job candidate was forced to hand over his personal social media accounts to his potential employer, a correctional institute.

After I'm dead and gone, what are they going to do with that data?

"A bipartisan consensus on privacy rights is emerging, and now the states are taking collective action where Congress has been largely asleep at the switch," said ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero. "Everyone should be empowered to decide who has access to their personal information." California is notably missing from the list, but it recently passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which the ACLU considers the nation's strongest.

The bills still have to pass through each state's respective legislature, but there's a lot of political goodwill up for grabs. According to the ACLU, recent polls show that 90 percent of Americans want the next US president to pass stronger privacy protection laws. "We're exploding with information and data across our nation," said Michigan state representative Peter Lucido. "Who is the data being shared with? How long is the data being kept? After I'm dead and gone, what are they going to do with that data?"

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