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Oklahoma House Committee Votes 6-0 to Turn off Resources to NSA Spying

OKLAHOMA CITY  (Feb 25, 2015) –  A bill that would turn off state support and resources to the NSA cleared its first hurdle today with a unanimous committee vote.

Oklahoma Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) introduced the “Oklahoma Privacy Protection Act” in January.  HB1738 would ban “material support or resources” from the state to warrantless federal spy programs. It would not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah, but would have immediate practical effects on the implementation of some federal surveillance programs if passed.

HB1738 cleared the Oklahoma House State and Federal Relations Committee by a 6-0 vote.

“If you have a government entity – city county or state – you should have an expectation that they are protecting your rights – your privacy,” Moore said during a short hearing before the vote.

HB1738 goes a step beyond the 2015 model language drafted by OffNow. It not only bars state cooperation with agencies like the NSA, it also address corporations that provide material support to the spy agency. Any corporation supporting NSA spying would be ineligible to bid for any state contract, forcing it to choose between violating your rights and securing lucrative business opportunities with the state.

The legislation also includes penalties. Any state agency or subdivision violating the law would become ineligible for state grant funds, and individuals convicted of violating the law would be guilty of a misdemeanor. Additionally individuals who violate the law “shall be deemed to have resigned any commission from the State of Oklahoma which he or she may possess…and he or she shall be forever thereafter ineligible to any office of trust, honor or emolument under the laws of this state.”

Rep. Moore indicated that there was concern voiced by the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce that it would negatively impact businesses. Business interests in Arizona effectively killed a similar bill there last year. Moore pointed out that the legislation would only impact corporations assisting in the illegal collection of warrantless data.

“If they are doing something the needs a warrant and not getting it, yeah, I guess there would be a problem. But there would be a problem anyway, and we should be concerned,” he said.

Last year, a similar bill passed out of an Oklahoma House committee, but Republican leadership blocked the bill from going to the full House for a vote.

“It was quite frustrating watching bills sponsored by the opposition party get priority and receive votes while a piece of Republican sponsored legislation that would have protected the privacy rights of Oklahomans languished,” OffNow executive director Mike Maharrey said. “Now the House leadership has another shot. Maybe they will demonstrate they actually care about violations of the Fourth Amendment this time.”

HB1738 is now set to move on to the full House for a vote. If last year serves as any indication, House leadership will need a strong push to bring the legislation to the floor.

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