How well does Arizona law protect your online privacy?

By: - October 24, 2019 1:48 pm

Photo by Christiaan Colen | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Just about every other day, another data breach seems to be reported or another story comes out about an app that shares intrusive information about our personal lives to companies for personal gain, but what does Arizona do to help protect the online privacy of its residents? 

Arizona’s constitution has some protections inherently built into it.

“No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs,” the constitution says under the Right to Privacy section. 

The provision is written in a much broader way than in the U.S. Constitution, which alludes to a right to privacy in the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth amendments. That broadness in the Arizona Constitution is helpful to residents of the state, said local attorney Marc Lamber

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich earlier this year told Capitol Media Services that Arizona residents “have that right to privacy that provides us more protection than the Fourth Amendment does.”

However, he noted that it hasn’t been settled by the courts just how broadly that part of the Arizona Constitution can be interpreted, and said lawmakers can set limits on it. 

Brnovich’s office has been integral in trying to get lawmakers to do just that, and has had some success in doing so. 

But what other protections exist for Arizona residents? 

Comparitech, a company that reviews virtual private networks, anti-virus software and does research on all things tech related, recently put together data on how every state stacks up on laws related to online privacy. 

It looked at a set of 20 laws that protect people’s online privacy and found that Arizona only had four on the books. 

Arizona’s score from Comparitech is a 30 percent out of a possible 100. The highest score any state achieved was California, which got a 75. 

What Arizona does have

One of the laws that protect Arizona residents stipulates how companies and governments must dispose of data they collect. 

The law outlines the penalties if a government or corporation knowingly releases social security numbers, credit card numbers or driver’s license numbers without redacting the information first. 

The first violation results in a fine of $500, then $1,000 before jumping to $5,000 for a third violation. 

Another law that Arizona has is one that protects journalists, often referred to as a “shield law”. 

This law protects journalists in the state from being compelled to testify in a court proceeding or from disclosing their source. While not strictly an online privacy law, in the digital age, many journalists often communicate with confidential sources via electronic means, and shield laws provide protection for those sources and the journalists they speak to. 

In Arizona, K-12 student data is protected by a law that applies financial penalties to any school that discloses information they collect. 

The only other law on the books that clearly protects the online privacy of Arizona residents is one that states a person’s library reading record, including e-book history, is not subject to disclosure unless the person agrees to it or it is ordered by the court. 

What Arizona doesn’t have

Arizona, like most of the country, does not have quite a few laws that Comparitech believes strengthens people’s online privacy protections. 

For example, Arizona does not have any laws that require internet service providers to get consent from consumers to share their data. Additionally, law enforcement doesn’t need a warrant for that data. 

There are no laws that say your employer must inform you that they are monitoring emails, internet access or social media activity on their devices. 

Arizona also has no laws that protect the privacy rights of minors. 

And Arizona doesn’t have a law on the books to protect biometric data, but not for a lack of trying

The worst state in the union for online privacy? 


Residents there only have one of the 20 laws Comparitech identified: a law to protect K-12 data. 

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.