New state bills that would create a database firewall between California and the federal government passed out of their respective Senate committees on Tuesday. Both are headed to the Appropriations Committee and then could soon see votes by the full California Senate. If passed, these critical bills would help prevent Muslim registries and mass deportations in California and would send a strong message to the Trump administration that Californians will resist his attacks on digital liberty.
Senate Bill 54, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León would prevent law enforcement agencies in California from sharing department databases or private information with the federal government for immigration enforcement. It would also require California state agencies to update their confidentiality polices so that they stop collecting or sharing unnecessary data about every Californian.
Senate Bill 31, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, would prevent local and state government agencies from collecting data, sharing data, or using resources to participate in any program that would create a registry of people based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin. Police agencies would also be forbidden from creating a database of religious minorities in California.
President Trump has openly discussed requiring Muslims in America to register in a database. When asked subsequently about that proposal, he has said that he “would certainly implement that—absolutely.” According to the New York Times:
Asked later, as he signed autographs, how such a database would be different from Jews having to register in Nazi Germany, Mr. Trump repeatedly said, “You tell me,” until he stopped responding to the question.
ABC reports that Trump’s executive order on immigration could impact 11 million people in the United States. While the details of that program are still unknown, one thing is clear: California shouldn’t be participating in federal plans to roundup and deport millions of people.
California is leading the way in what could prove to be one of the most effective mechanisms for thwarting Trump’s anti-liberty agenda. Strong state laws can create a legal barricade to data sharing with the federal government, creating a database firewall between state and federal authorities. The end result? State and local government will not participate in Trump policies that trample on digital liberties in California.
Importantly, these pro-privacy policies will outlast President Trump. Once baked into California law, they’ll safeguard the over 38 million residents of California for generations to come.
EFF is committed to working with the authors of S.B. 54 and S.B. 31 to ensure that the bills are effective and enforced. In the meantime, you can make your voice heard by sending messages to your California legislators using the links below. And regardless of whether you are in California, you can help by sharing these actions and this blog post on social media.