DOVER, Del. (June 19, 2023) – On Tuesday, a Delaware House committee passed a bill that would ban reverse-keyword search orders. Passage of the legislation would not only protect privacy in Delaware; it would also hinder the growth of the federal surveillance state.

Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton introduced House Bill 445 (HB445) on May 14. The legislation would prohibit state government agencies including local law enforcement agencies and courts from requesting, issuing, or enforcing reverse-keyword court orders and reverse-keyword requests. It would also prohibit government agencies from seeking the assistance of any agency of the federal government or any agency of the government of another state in obtaining information or data from a reverse-keyword court order or a reverse-keyword request if the government entity would be barred from directly seeking such information under the law.

A reverse-keyword search seeks to “obtain records or information identifying any unnamed persons, by name or other unique identifier, who electronically searched for a particular word, phrase, or website, or who visited a particular website through a link generated by such a search.” For instance, a reverse keyword search would allow police to pinpoint every individual who did a Google search for a specific keyword such as “assault rifle.”

HB445 would create a private right of action for an individual whose personal information was obtained in violation of the law. It would also require the suppression of evidence derived from an unlawful reverse location or reverse keyword search.

On June 18, the House Judiciary Committee passed HB445 by a 5-1 vote.


The feds can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE. In other words, stingrays create the potential for the federal government to track the movement of millions of Americans with no warrant, no probable cause, and without the people even knowing it.

Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”

Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.

Limiting information collected by state and local law enforcement agencies limits the amount of information that can flow into federal databases through fusion centers and the ISE.


HB445 can now move to the full House for consideration.

Mike Maharrey