GILLETTE, Wyo. – A Campbell County resident is calling for Commissioner Butch Knutson’s resignation amid public outcry denouncing a plan to monitor and collect personal data during an upcoming event.
Knutson’s resignation was called for by Jacob Dalby during a Campbell County Commission meeting on April 4. Dalby in a letter accused the commissioner of supporting communist ideals for his alleged backing of a plan to collect personal geographical and financial data during the upcoming National High School Finals Rodeo.
The plan was announced by Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau during a March 2023 Lodging Tax Board meeting. It calls for the use of geofencing, a service offered through Utah-based company Zartico that sets up an imaginary barrier and shows where visitors come from, where they go, how much they spend, and where they spend it whenever they cross over, according to the Gillette News-Record.
In his letter, read aloud by Kimberly Glass-Dalby, Dalby publicly objected to the county allowing the visitor’s bureau to have invisible data-tracking software with the intent to monitor how people use their credit and debit cards as well as where they come from and where they go.
Dalby wrote that the visitor’s bureau had crossed the line and had taken a definitive step toward communism; he said that while Knutson publicly stated that the plan seemed something Red China would do, the commissioner also expressed interest in what the data would show.
“[Knutson], for your in-favored support of the tracking program for purchases in Campbell County, a communist act, I demand your immediate resignation as commissioner,” Dalby wrote.
He went on to accuse the commissioner of not knowing the U.S. Constitution, despite taking an oath to defend the Constitution, and claimed that meant Knutson doesn’t intend to defend it.
Knutson objected to Dalby’s characterization of him, stating that he believed Dalby had jumped the gun with his accusation on a topic that hasn’t been officially discussed by the commissioners yet and that he wasn’t in favor of the geofencing plan.
He did, however, acknowledge his previous statement where he expressed interest in knowing where tourism dollars are being spent in Campbell County.
“And so sometimes, I’d appreciate it when people bring their narratives to this board if they would give it a second thought or a third thought – whatever it is — because I feel like I’ve been slandered here when I don’t agree with that at all,” Knutson said.
Whether Zartico gathers the data or not is not up to the commission, according to Chairman Colleen Faber, who said the information sought by the visitor’s bureau is already being gathered likely through personal or individualized agreements across a myriad of applications and devices. The company doesn’t care whether Campbell County wants the information or not, they’re still going to carry on gathering it.
Glass-Dalby said that it doesn’t matter if the information is already being gathered, she felt it’s important for local representatives to be the ones to stand up and object, regardless of what residents sign when they update a phone or an application.