Illustration by Camden Benesh

Senate Bill 614 goes too far

The bill would allow an unacceptable invasion of privacy

We have all heard of police body cams and their varying range of effectiveness. But are they enough? Some in our state government say it’s not, and that police need to know more before an arrest. Senate Bill 614, currently working its way through the Oregon State Legislature, would allow law enforcement to collect far more information about citizens than they can now. This bill is a blatant breach of people’s privacy, and it goes against Oregon civil rights law. For that reason, it cannot be allowed to pass.


Senate Bill 614 would “[permit] law enforcement agency to collect and maintain information about a person’s political, religious or social views or activities if the information was collected and maintained for lawful purpose, including activities carried out in accordance with policy for officer-worn video cameras,” according to the Oregon State Legislature summary of the bill. This is a clear violation of fundamental Oregon civil rights law, which “prohibits police from gathering and maintaining information about people’s political, social or religious views without probable cause to believe a crime has occurred,” as reported by Willamette Week.


The citizens of Oregon, and by extension the students and staff here at Portland State, need to protest and show our State Senators and Representatives how we feel about this proposed breach of privacy. With enough demonstrations, we can show our state leaders and representatives that this bill is not good for Oregon, and thus not good for Portland. Yet even more can be done to keep this bill from passing, such as writing letters to our state government to tell them that this bill is not good for our state. If we let our leaders know how we feel, perhaps this bill can be stopped before it’s too late.


S.B. 614 would give police the ability to target anyone they say is breaking the law based on the information they record. This extends from people who are littering to even protesters. In fact, “The Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and the ACLU of Oregon… have expressed concerns that allowing officers to turn their cameras on earlier will allow them to collect and store information that infringes on the civil liberties of protesters and others who are acting lawfully,” per Willamette Week. This includes those here at PSUif a student participates in a protest or other form of lawful activity under this law, the police would be empowered to record them and keep their face on file.


Furthermore, we have to understand that it is not specified what falls under “any other lawful purpose”—practically speaking, that means the police would be able to record for any reason they see fit. As a matter of fact, ACLU Legal Director Kelly Simon explained that S.B. 614 will increase the range of what Oregon police are able to record. This is due to the fact that this bill allows police to film for “any other lawful purpose,” which is a very vague and nearly undefinable criteria. Additionally, it’s not clear that the bill is even necessary for its stated purpose. “Simon notes that major law enforcement agencies, such as the Oregon State Police, have been using body cameras for years under the current restrictions without major problems,” according to Willamette Week.


Because of these issues, Senate Bill 614 must not be allowed to pass. Yet, right now, it is on its way to being passed by the Oregon State House, and has already been passed by the State Senate, according to The Oregonian. This is a travesty, because this bill would give our state too much power over the people they are supposed to protect. We can only hope that our state government will listen to our cries of outrage about this bill in the days and months to come, and put an end to it.