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California Senators to NSA: Not So Fast, We Follow the Fourth Amendment

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A bipartisan team of California lawmakers is pushing a bill through California’s legislature that would prevent any state-related entity from  disclosing information on citizens to federal agents without a warrant. State Senators Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) introduced Senate Bill 828, also called the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, on Monday.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit “an employee of the state… a corporation… or a political subdivision of the state from materially supporting or assisting, as specified, a federal agency or federal agent in collecting electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”

In a release, Lieu cited constitutional concern over the National Security Agency’s data-mining practices as cause for the bill.

“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”

While SB 828 may not prohibit the NSA from intercepting data on its own accord, the bill makes California one of four states currently considering similar legislation. Missouri, Kansas, and Arizona have also introduced other versions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.

The fact that California is exploring such legislation shouldn’t come as a surprise. The state is home to a robust tech industry, which has been highly critical of the NSA’s surveillance policies.

One group leading the lobbying effort for SB 828 is the Tenth Amendment Center. Communications Director Mike Maharrey argues the bill could help keep international investment inside the state. Foreign investors have been weary of American tech-companies ever since confidential information regarding data collection by the NSA was released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

 “Since the NSA is expanding so wildly, it’s not unlikely that they’re planning to build new data centers and ‘threat operations centers’ in other locations. California’s high-tech industry makes it a likely candidate. We can’t wait until the NSA opens up shop. This act yanks away the welcome mat and tells the NSA, ‘We don’t want you in California unless you follow the Constitution.’”

The Tenth Amendment Center is also exploring alternative means to ‘nullify’ the NSA’s surveillance capabilities in other states. The group launched a campaign in Utah last month to turn off the state’s supply of water to the NSA’s data facility.

Photo credit: ‘Bumblehive’ data center in Utah // nsa.gov

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