Privacy rights advocates may want to challenge the Houston Press to rethink their recent article hyperventilating over Sheriff Ron Hickman’s decision to remove the rainbow flag logo from the website of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Perhaps Sheriff Hickman doesn’t have a problem with the rainbow flag logo — but maybe, just maybe Sheriff Hickman DOES have a problem with technology that tracks a computer to a person, potentially exposing the HCSO to charges of violating of Federal wiretapping laws, the Fourth Amendment and the invasion of private communications.
Allow me to recap the series of events and elaborate.
The boss wrote this June 5th article titled “Sheriff Ron Hickman doesn’t care much for Adrian Garcia” where he explained what happened during the Downtown Pachyderm Club meeting question time:
“During the questions from the club time, Tom Zakes asked him about the Harris County Sheriff’s office website. Tom told him that on the Contact page for the department, there was a “rainbow” flag and wanted to know if any other “bacon, lettuce, tomato” groups had special consideration.”
The Houston Press subsequently chimed in, going to great lengths explaining why the rainbow flag logo was removed from the HCSO website and why the LGBT liaison program was axed.
“The LGBT Liaison program didn’t have the capacity which you would expect by looking at the website….Those requests were kind of administered ad hoc. Should a request come in, it would be processed around through the department until it could be fulfilled. We already have systems and structures in place through our community services division to take care of those things directly.”
However the Houston Press failed to educate their readers on an issue that privacy rights advocates across political and social spectrums could agree and unite upon.
“Clements-Jeffrey and her boyfriend, Smith, sued Absolute Software, Kyle Magnus, the city of Springfield, Ohio, and two police officers. The plaintiffs allege that the police violated their Fourth Amendment rights, and that Absolute violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act and intentionally invaded their privacy.”
Maybe, just maybe that “processed around” had too much liability and opportunity for activities, actions & people to abuse that could potentially subject the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to accusations of facilitating the violation of Federal wiretapping laws, such as in a case that allowed an Ohio woman and her boyfriend to sue a laptop-tracking company that recorded their private communications?
And embarrass a LOT of people.
I thought the Houston Press and LGBT family supported privacy rights and following Federal laws—yeesh.