Tennessee Legislator Introduces Fourth Amendment Protection Act, Joins Seven Other States

Lawmakers in at least seven states are taking the fight against the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to state capitols. All bills introduced locally to keep the states from cooperating with the federal government were based on the Off Now Coalition’s model bill.

Tennessee has now joined Washington, Kansas, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana in the battle to keep the federal government’s advances against privacy from spreading. The bill introduced by Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) would keep the state from providing water and electricity to an NSA facility or any other federal agency “claiming the power to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant.”

The bill would prohibit the state of Tennessee from taking part in any effort to abuse the Fourth Amendment by ensuring that the NSA does not obtain any local material support, which is fundamental to the smooth operation of their facilities. The bill would also ensure that data gathered without a warrant and shared with local law enforcement agencies, cannot be used as evidence in state court. Any local public University in Tennessee would be prohibited from serving as recruiting grounds to the NSA. The agency would also be kept from using universities as research facilities.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, a secretive computing facility is run by NSA researchers from inside of the East Campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. That’s where the NSA runs most of the data that is is gathered. That’s also where the researchers work on developing High Productivity Computers. These computers, which are part of a project carried out by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, are being perfected to crack encryption.

The data storage center in Utah and the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge will be reportedly working together, making it possible for encrypted data stored in Bluffdale easy to break by researchers in Oak Ridge, once the High Productivity Computers are at full speed.

The state-run University of Tennessee and Battelle own the Oak Ridge National Laboratory but the city of Oak Ridge is the facility’s main source of water. Since the UT-Battelle contract is up in 2015, renewal could be made a bit more difficult if the proposed legislation is enacted.

Washington was the first state to consider enacting the Fourth Amendment Protection Act. Kansas and Missouri have two bills addressing the data sharing aspect of the campaign against the federal government’s Fourth Amendment abuse.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, lawmakers from several other states should be introducing similar bills in the near future.


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