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Action Needed After Committee Hearing Held On Vermont Bill to Turn Off Resources to the NSA;

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Feb 27, 2015) – Last week, a Vermont House committee held a hearing on a bill that would turn off resources to federal spying programs, including the NSA.

Rep. Teo Zagar (D-Barnard) introduced H.204 on Feb. 12. Similar to legislation that passed an Oklahoma committee earlier this week, the bill would ban “material support or resources” from the state to warrantless federal spy programs. H.204 represents a truly transpartisan effort, with three cosponsors literally span the political spectrum, including a Republican, an Independent and a member of the Progressive Party.

Zagar said the hearing went well, although there were some questions raised.

“There was a lot of interest in it, but clearly a lot of nuances they feel need to be worked through,” he said.

The legislation bars agencies or political subdivisions of the state, their employees, or any person providing them services from providing material support for or assisting or in any way participating in the collection of a person’s electronic data or metadata by any federal agency or pursuant to any federal law, rule, regulation, or order unless the data is collected pursuant to a judicially issued warrant that particularly describes the persons, places and things to be searched or seized.”

The main concerns seemed to revolve around the scope of the bill, and according to a report on VTDigger.org, discussion broadened to include more general privacy issues.

“There’s incredible information collected on you that you might not realize,” Rep. Barbara Rachelson (D-Burlington) said.

Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland) raised questions about what types of information and data the bill covers bringing up immunization records as an example.

Zagar urged committee members to seek out testimony from other experts, such as the Vermont ACLU.

While the committee did not appear hostile to the legislation, it remains unclear what will happen next.

Supporters of H.204 should call members of the House Committee on Judiciary to help pressure them to move the bill forward to the full House.

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