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Civil Liberties and Privacy: How the Two are Intertwined

Written by on March 1, 2024

Story written by Logan O’Brien

NORMAL, Ill. – After speaking at the Digital Privacy and Civil Liberties event hosted by ISU, Stephen Ragan had more to say about our civil liberties, privacy and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Ragan is a part of ACLU, an organization devoted to defending the rights of people nationwide. Ragan explains how there are two divisions of the ACLU, the litigation division and the advocacy division. He belongs to the advocacy division and explains its role.

“We are now advocating for laws to protect the civil rights and civil liberties … we think about what laws we want in place.,” he said. “Advocacy is kind of like a new approach but its complimentary with the ligation role.”

Ragan explains how the ACLU advocacy division of Illinois is pushing for a new law to be enacted. Along with this law, he believes it has a critical component to make companies and entities obey the new legislation.

“The ACLU of Illinois has a current initiative, a current law that we are trying to get enacted, and that’s the Protect Health Data Privacy Act,” he said. “That would require companies to be more transparent about the details of their collection practices and provides some actionable rights to individuals such as the right to deletion, and then also to have this private right of action … to make companies comply with this law.”

Ragan believes that civil liberties are vital to a free democracy and self-development. He also holds firm to the notion that civil liberties go hand in hand with privacy and explains his stance.

“When I am thinking specifically about the context of the first amendment, so the right to express ourselves and the right to associate with who we want … I think privacy relates to all of those really well in the sense that privacy gives us that space to explore our own ideas and make mistakes,” Ragan said.

Privacy is a large concern to Ragan, and he thinks that privacy is a space that allows us to present ourselves how we want and lets us control and fix information that is public.