Legislators Launch Effort to Stop State-Enabled NSA Snooping

California senators introduce bill because 'state-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency from indiscriminate spying on its own citizens.'

Citing the National Security Agency's "direct threat to our liberty and freedom," California State Senators Ted Lieu and Joel Anderson introduced a bill on Monday to stop the state from enabling the agency's "massive level of spying" and violations of the Fourth Amendment brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"The National Security Agency's massive level of spying and indiscriminate collecting of phone and electronic data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a direct threat to our liberty and freedom," Sen. Lieu, a Democrat representing Torrance, stated.

"All 317 million Americans cannot reasonably be considered to be suspicious simply for making or receiving telephone calls," the statement from Sen. Lieu continued. "The NSA's blanket seizure of the telephone records of all Americans is therefore an 'unreasonable seizure' by any definition of the term under the Fourth Amendment."

"I support this bill," added bill co- author Sen. Anderson, a Republican representing the San Diego and Riverside communities, "because I support the Constitution, our 4th Amendment rights and our freedoms to live in the United States of America."

As the OffNow coalition, which helped craft the legislation, outlines, Sens. Lieu and Anderson's Senate Bill 828:

  1. Prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. Includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity.
  2. Makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court.
  3. Blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.
  4. Provides sanctions against corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.

"State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency from indiscriminate spying on its own citizens and gathering electronic or metadata that violates the Fourth Amendment," Sen. Lieu stated.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), a member of the OffNow coalition, writes in its blog that the legislation represents a continuation of welcome moves by the state:

SB828 is only the next in a series of bipartisan bills defending the Bill of Rights in the state. AB351, which was signed into law in October of 2013, took a similar stance of noncompliance with the portions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would permit the indefinite detention of California residents.

California is rapidly positioning itself as one of the few states in the union capable of enacting real reform across party lines, and the evidence is in the electorate. The Shame on Feinstein coalition, composed of activists from across the political spectrum, has gained over a thousand supporters in their call for real NSA reform.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said of the NSA's bulk telephone data collection: "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval." Journalist Glenn Greenwald called Leon's ruling "a vindication for our fellow citizen Edward Snowden."


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