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States Take on NSA and the Surveillance State: Bills Likely in at Least 12 States

At least a dozen states are likely to consider bills to battle the NSA and other segments of the surveillance state in 2015.

With more than two months still remaining before many 2015 state legislative sessions begin, sources close to the OffNow Project indicate we are likely to see bills to protect privacy from attacks by the NSA, FBI and other state and local agencies in more than a dozen states. Legislators in 15 states have already given us early, soft commitments to introduce various parts of the OffNow legislative package.

This is a huge number for this early stage and we expect it to soar.

Our work begins long before the legislative sessions kick off. Over the summer, we spend long hours analyzing last year’s effort, and refining and drafting bill language. Outreach to legislators begins in earnest while the summer sun still bakes the countryside, and continues as the leaves change and frost begins to coat the grass.

But the early start and long hours pay off.

After about six weeks of phone calls, emails and follow-up legislators in 15 states have indicated a willingness to introduce OffNow backed legislation next year. We garnered these commitments despite the fact that state legislatures remain in flux with election campaign season in full swing. We expect to firm up these commitments and gain many more after the November elections.

Here is some information on OffNow bills for 2015.


Fourth Amendment Protection Act

The Fourth Amendment Protection Act provides an opportunity for state legislators to do what Congress won’t – take meaningful steps to stop unwarranted NSA spying. This legislation bans a state from taking actions that provide “material support or resources” to warrantless federal spying programs. This includes provisioning of resources, ending partnerships between state universities and the NSA, and banning the state from using data obtained without warrant in state court.

Click HERE for model language.


Electronic Data Privacy Act

Former NSA Technical Director William Binney considers NSA sharing warrantless data with your local police to be “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.”

The Electronic Data Privacy Act bans this practice on a local level.  Straightforward, legal, constitutional – it will have an immediate impact on this dangerous practical effect of mass data collection by the NSA.

Click HERE for model language.


Other Privacy Legislation

OffNow also has model legislation available that places strong restrictions on the use of drones and bans location tracking without a warrant.

Click HERE for more information model language.


A final piece of legislation called the CHOICE Act addresses corporate cooperation with federal spying. So far, we don’t have any commitment on this bill.

C.H.O.I.C.E. Act (Creating Helpful Options for Institutions, Corporations, and Enterprise)

While government agencies primarily drive the surveillance state, in many cases, private corporations enable NSA spying as well. Corporations willingly providing the NSA with essential services enable the agency to carry out the largest privacy violations in the history of the world. While a state cannot stop a private entity from helping the federal government violate your rights, it can choose not to do business with such an organization.

The C.H.O.I.C.E. Act does just that. The bill bars corporations enabling federal spying from winning state contracts. This legislation gives corporations a choice, either do business with spies, or do business with us.

Click HERE for model language

We are off to a great start, but we can really up the ante with your help. You can take just a few minutes, contact your state representative and senator, and ask them to introduce legislation, including the CHOICE Act, to protect your privacy in your state.

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