Technology concerns began in the 1950s, over government officials listening to phone calls or surveilling private conversations.
By the 1970s, more and more personal information was stored on new computer systems, both corporate and governmental. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri (as it was then called) launched a Privacy Media Campaign aimed at educating a wide audience. With funding from the Deer Creek Foundation, advertising time was purchased on local TV and radio stations, and brochures were printed.
A key topic was informing viewers of their rights to obtain data under the Freedom of Information Act, expanded by the 1974 Privacy Act amendments.
In 1985, Missouri officials wanted to compile names of people living with HIV and AIDS, although doctors stated this would not help the epidemic.
Together, the ACLU of Western Missouri and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri lobbied state legislators to stop this hurtful invasion of people’s privacy. Finally, in 1992, an “AIDS Bill” was enacted, requiring that the state keep communicable disease information confidential.
Work to protect the rights of people living with HIV continues in 2020. The ACLU of Missouri, along with other organizations such as PROMO, continue to lobby for updated state laws. “Missouri’s current law criminalizes conduct that doesn’t even result in HIV exposure. Using a condom during sex or receiving treatment for HIV isn’t considered an adequate defense—simply living and loving as an HIV+ individual is enough to be liable for prosecution.” (read more here)
Safir Ahmed, “The AIDS Police,” 664 The Riverfront Times, June 26 – July 2, 1991. page 1, 10-11.
ACLU of Missouri, “As Understanding of HIV/AIDS Evolves, So Should Missouri Law,” February 27, 2019. https://www.aclu-mo.org/en/news/understanding-hivaids-evolves-so-should-missouri-law
ACLU-MO @ 100
This post is part of a series in recognition of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri’s centennial year (1920-2020). Read more stories at: https://library.wustl.edu/tag/ACLU-MO@100/