Failed to pass both houses, will not become law this session

Under current law, it is a crime for a person to intentionally intercept or attempt to intercept an oral communication or to intentionally use a device or attempt to use a device to intercept an oral communication, subject to certain exceptions primarily related to law enforcement. Under this bill, no state agency or local governmental unit (with some exceptions for police), may intercept an oral communication in a building or space owned, leased, or operated by the agency or local governmental unit, except if all of the following apply: 

  1. The governing body of the local governmental unit authorizes the interception by a two-thirds vote of the body's membership. 
  2. The governing body or head of the state agency or local governmental unit authorizes the interception at least once each year. The authorization must include information concerning the costs and operational procedures and capabilities associated with the interception, and the specific areas where interception is authorized. 
  3. Each area where interception is authorized contains a posting in plain view advising the public that oral communications in the area may be recorded. 
  4. Recordings of the interceptions are retained by the state agency or local governmental unit for no more than 240 days after origination.

While ACLU-WI appreciates efforts to prohibit audio surveillance by the government, there are inherent risks associated with creating a pathway to constant surveillance within the halls of a government building. ACLU-WI recommends the following amendments to increase transparency and limit the use of this surveillance: 

  • A public hearing on the proposed “interception” must be held before the a vote is taken on the use of this technology
  • Where “interception” is being used to surveil a specific person(s) as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, a judicial probable cause warrant should be required prior to engaging in the surveillance, even if approved by a legislative body
  • Shorten the retention period: where recordings do not capture evidence of wrongdoing (and are retained as evidence as part of a criminal investigation), recordings should be deleted within 7 days



Representative David Steffen; Senator Eric Wimberger





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