The long-awaited GOP proposal for combating mass shootings is receiving pushback from advocates for children’s privacy who say such laws could result in the “over-surveillance” of minors. Libertarians and constitutionalists agree.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a Republican-backed bill to help prevent mass shootings this week. RESPONSE: The Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts, Act is part of several top Republican proposals aimed at combating mass shootings.
RESPONSE would expand resources for mental health treatment centers to facilitate the creation of “behavioral intervention teams,” monitor students exhibiting disturbing behavior, and provide new tools for law enforcement.
But privacy advocates are raising warning flags over a law that gives public schools the power to “detect [the] online activities of minors who are at risk of committing self-harm or extreme violence against others.”
The proposal would greatly expand the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 which is mostly seen today as a method to block children from looking up pornography on school computers.
Sources told The Hill that privacy advocates are pressing the point to Cornyn that there is “little evidence that increasing online monitoring can effectively reduce violence in schools.”
“I think these people are well-meaning,” said a source who lobbies against legislation like RESPONSE. “I don’t think there’s any intent to do harm to kids.”
Over the last five years, social media monitoring has spiked dramatically. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, there were six districts that had purchased social media monitoring software in 2013 but today there are at least 63.
One privacy expert told The Hill the monitoring programs don’t appear to live up to their billing but instead result in less privacy for students and in an increased workload for school administrators.
He said, “Schools that have chosen to purchase automated monitoring software are inundated with alerts flagging concerning behavior… Some have even seen more than one hundred alerts per day.”
But the RESPONSE Act has received endorsements from a wide range of law enforcement groups and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Treatment Advocacy Center.
Cornyn defended the proposed statute saying, “I spent time with families and victims in El Paso and Midland-Odessa following those tragedies and pledged to work with my Senate colleagues on real solutions. I urge my colleagues to come together once again to pass the Response Act to help prevent mass shootings and put a stop to this senseless loss of life.”
RESPONSE like the bipartisan-supported TAPS Act would create yet another federal bureaucracy tasked with developing “threat assessments” on individuals much like Communist China’s social credit system.
The TAPS act, The Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019, would give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to issue grants for creating “infusion centers.” This would be a collaborative effort of state, federal, and local governments “with the goal of maximizing the ability of such agencies to detect, prevent, investigate, apprehend, and respond to criminal or terrorist activity.”
RESPONSE and The TAPS act pose a grave threat for those intent on exercising their right to keep and bear arms, and would prove disastrous for the privacy rights reserved to the People under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.