As we debate over the constitutionality of the NSA spying programs, Missouri and Kansas lawmakers begin gearing up to fight the agency at the state level.
According to OffNow.Org, Kansas State Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee) pre-submitted a state bill requiring state agencies and local governments to formally maintain cell phone and Internet data related to its citizens that is “held by a third-party in a system of record.” The public’s information would be protected from being “subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion for its release to any person or entity or be admissible in evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.” To obtain any of this data, the agency would have to first obtain an “express informed consent” or a warrant.
This effort would undermine NSA’s active spying programs by keeping them from having access to data related to cell phone and Internet users in Kansas. The Fourth Amendment Protection Act would assure that electronic data would be just as protected by the law as your physical mail is.
In Missouri, lawmakers proposed a very similar solution. The effort would add “electronic communications and data” to the clause of the state constitution that deals with search and seizure.
Since the information gathered by these national agencies is rarely associated with national security issues, state legislators believe that these proposals would undermine the funneling of information pertaining to millions of law-abiding citizens. According to Reuters, the NSA’s Special Operations Division often directs local law enforcement to maintain their investigation under wraps through the concealing of the procedure of the data gathering programs.
Local law enforcement agencies in 33 states are actively intercepting and systematically listing the electronic communication data of locals for federal use. By taking advantages of the advances in technology we have seen in the past years, the government was capable of going beyond its means several times now by gathering information that simply cannot and should not be made accessible to federal agents without a warrant.
The campaign led by the OffNow coalition is focusing on urging states to propose bills that would undermine the spying programs at state level. The coalition recommends lawmakers to propose bills that would tackle university partnerships with the NSA, provision of resources, corporate sanctions and the sharing of data.