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Missouri Anti-Spying Bill Passes Committee

On Monday, a Missouri state Senate committee approved a proposed state constitutional amendment that would protect private data and end a practical effect of NSA spying.

Sen. Rob Schaaf introduced Senate Joint Resolution 27 (SJR27). After a hearing on Jan. 27  it passed through the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday. It now heads to the full Senate for debate and an eventual vote.

The text of SJR27 is short and concise, replacing the “privacy rights” section in the state constitution with the following language adding electronic communications to the objects protected from search or seizure without a warrant.

“That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers,  homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”

The effect of this resolution would be significant. The addition of electronic communications to the list of privacy items would make emails, phone records, Internet records and other electronic information gathered without a warrant inadmissible in state court. That would include data gathered illegally by overzealous state and local law enforcement as well as the federal government.

OffNow’s National Campaign Lead Shane Trejo welcomed the progress that SJR27 represents in the on-going battle against illegal spying.

“While Missouri might not be able to physically stop the NSA and other federal agencies from collecting our data without a warrant, legislation such as this can significantly reduce the practical effect of what they are trying to do with it. Compliance with the NSA’s illegal spying program would be illegal in Missouri if this is passed, and that is no small feat,” he said.

SJR27 addresses one aspect of OffNow’s campaign to thwart NSA spying at the state and local level – data sharing.

As Reuters reported in August, 2013, the secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.”

Documents obtained by Reuters show that these cases “rarely involve national security issues,” and that local law enforcement is directed by SOD to “conceal how such investigations truly begin.”

Reports in the Washington Post and USA Today last fall documented how “the FBI and most other investigative bodies in the federal government” are regularly using a mobile device known as a “stingray” to intercept and collect electronic data without a warrant. Local and state police “have access through sharing agreements.”

The work does not stop here for Missouri residents who wish to keep their privacy rights. SJR27 needs to be passed, and state legislators must be lobbied to introduce a full 4th Amendment Protection Act in the near future. SJR27 can serve as a springboard for more comprehensive reform efforts that would fully protect the 4th Amendment rights of Missourians.



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One thought on “Missouri Anti-Spying Bill Passes Committee

  1. […] as reported by Shane Trejo at on Feb. 11, 2014, a Missouri state Senate committee recently approved a proposed state […]

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