In less than 72 hours, new laws passed primarily by state legislatures in 2014 will go into effect that will impact how we use technology in the coming year. These laws run the gamut, covering everything from nude pictures to self-driving cars.
Leading the country in state legislation is California where Governor Jerry Brown has taken a personal interest in seeing new curbs enacted on certain uses of technology, especially where they affect privacy and minors.
California's new "Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World Law" bars online website operators from marketing products such as alcoholic beverages, firearms or cigarettes to users under the age of 18 and allows minors to delete content from websites as well. Content deletion only applies to accounts where the minors are registered on the site.
There will also be a new law in California starting January 1 that extends privacy protection to all individuals who take and post nude "selfie" pictures of themselves in personal private sites. Later in the year, another new law will allow a person whose naked image was shared without their consent to file suit for monetary damages.
A new "kill switch" law will also go into effect in 2015. After July 1, all smartphones sold in California must have anti-theft technology that allows for the device to be made inoperable.
Companies which maintain personal information on Californians will be subject to new laws as well. The new rules are aimed at cloud service companies who do not necessarily own or license personal information, but simply maintain it and they must now implement appropriate security practices to safeguard the information and notify owners in the event of a breach.
The definition of "personal information" is quite broad now in California, and covers any user names, email addresses, medical information, drivers' license or social security numbers, or financial accounts, making this one of the most advanced data privacy laws in the nation.
In anticipation of Google's planned rollout of their self-driving cars in 2015, a new California law requires manual controls so that a human can override the robotic technology and stop the car suddenly if necessary. Google originally wanted just a single "stop/go" button on the dashboard, but the state now requires operational brakes as well.
However, the rollout of Google cars could be delayed further since there have been recent reports that the California Department of Motor Vehicles will not have regulations governing their operation in place as of this coming Thursday which was required by the state.
While California has been notably aggressive in enacting laws governing technology during the past year, there are other states around the nation who have passed new rules for 2015 as well.
In Illinois, school districts will now have the power to discipline students for any online bullying, even if it occurs outside of the school day. New York will join the e-recycling revolution on January 1st when a new law goes into effect making it illegal for residents to throw out laptops, video game consoles, or flat screen TVs.
Hunters in North Carolina will be protected from drone surveillance of their movements, curbing animal rights activists who were using the unmanned aerial vehicles to spot illegal activities. And on Thursday, Tennessee will join 11 other states in allowing companies to raise investment from participants in online crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.
Finally, there is a new law in the state of Delaware that grants families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones after death. The newly enacted Delaware law is believed to be the broadest in the country and covers an area not yet addressed in California and many other states. If the activity this past year is any indication, this too will likely change, along with many other ways our lives are governed by technology in 2015.