Editorial: Technology should not mean privacy retreats

Should the police be able to go through your cellphone during a traffic stop?

Should the police be able to keep for years the license plate data of cars that went through a particular intersection?

The tricky part, as state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, said this week is “appropriately balancing the right of privacy with the need for efficiency and robust public safety protections.”

Without action by the state Legislature, the balance has tipped too far away from the public’s privacy. A legislative committee looked at five bills this week that try to fix that.

One would limit the length of time that law enforcement can retain license plate images to 30 days. Another would require a search warrant before law enforcement can access information on digital devices.

There are exceptions in both bills. And there are good reasons for exceptions. But they need to be narrowly defined. New technology should not mean that privacy retreats.