In what is expected to be the first of a number of states, KansasWatchdog.org reports that Kansas State Representative Brett Hildabrand is introducing a bill to push back against the surveillance state.
Dubbed the “Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act,” Hildabrand said the bill is a pre-emptive strike against the prying eyes of Big Brother.
This legislation is an important part of the first phase of the effort to #NullifyNSA spying. This first phase focuses on banning cooperation by state and local agencies with NSAs mass surveillance program. The model 4th Amendment Protection Act (available here) focuses on 3 major areas where NSA relies on assistance:
- Resources: Bans states (like Utah, Texas and others) from providing essential resources needed by NSA data centers. Including this section of the legislation in states with no data centers is important as well, because as one state works to tell the NSA it’s not welcome, making sure that neighboring states are informing NSA that helping them set up a data center elsewhere is illegal will be a force multiplier.
- Information sharing: Bans states from accepting and using information obtained by NSA without warrant. In other words, all of it.
- University partnerships: There are currently 166 universities around the country dubbed “centers of academic excellence.” At these locations, students help develop and further the NSA’s capabilities through research. And the partnership, in practice, turns these universities into fertile recruiting grounds for NSA analysts. Such partnerships with public universities would be banned.
The 4th Amendment Protection Act model legislation also includes penalties for corporations filling the gap and providing services instead.
Hildabrand’s legislation addresses the second of the three areas. From the KansasWatchdog report:
Short of obtaining a warrant or court order, the bill states that “(a)ll local and state governments are prohibited from possessing or attempting to possess information relating to an individual or group of individuals held by a third-party in a system of records; and no such information shall be 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.”
While some might feel it is common sense that digital information is afforded the same search and seizure protections as a person’s mailbox, Hildabrand argues that concept isn’t universally accepted.
“I want those same restrictions placed on electronic property,” Hildabrand told Kansas Watchdog.
The NSA has worked with other federal agencies to create a system whereby their warrantless data collection is shared with local law enforcement. Through a formerly-secret unit called Special Operations Division (SOD), information collected by NSA is passed on for use by state and local law enforcement in standard investigations. Should anyone need proof that use of all that data collected by NSA surveillance is not limited to extreme “terrorism” issues, this information sharing is it.
Another area where warrantless information-sharing runs rampant is via Fusion Centers, now in 62 locations around the country, including the Kansas Threat Integration Center in Topeka. Fusion centers are cooperative information-sharing locations run jointly by state and local agents. According to the federal Information Sharing Environment (ISE) website:
Today, fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners
Information from the warrantless NSA surveillance is made available to fusion centers via ISE, likely through ISE partners such as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense:
Systems such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Law Enforcement Online (LEO), the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Intelink-U, and RISS represent critical components of the Information Sharing Environment (www.ise.gov) and offer valuable services for their individual customers.
The Kansas Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act would ban receipt of such information passed to state and local law enforcement via SOD, Fusion Centers or any other mechanism which attempts to do the same.
AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP
While passage of the 4th Amendment Protection Act on its own will not stop the NSA from gathering intelligence as it has been doing, passage in a single state such as Kansas will reduce the negative impact of that data collection by banning its use in some of the most significant ways the federal government is trying to use it in practice.
Coupled with state-legislation to ban resource sharing in other states where NSA data centers and other locations exist (such as Utah, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, and West Virginia), plus those states (all but 7) which have university partnerships with NSA, passage in multiple will have a significant impact the NSA’s ability to carry out what it refers to as its “critical mission.”
This is following the direct advice of James Madison, who advised a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” in Federalist #46.
The “Father of the Constitution” recognized that widespread state-resistance to federal programs would render them toothless:
where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.