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Turn it off: Missouri senate committee passes bill to take on NSA

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (March 27, 2014) – A bill that would prohibit Missouri from offering any material support to the NSA or other federal agencies engaging in warrantless mass surveillance passed out of committee today.

SB819 addresses two broad privacy issues. Titled the ‘Fourth Amendment Protection Act,’ the first section would prohibit the state of Missouri from providing “material support for participation with or assistance to, in any form, any federal agency which claims the power, or which purports due to any federal law, regulation, or order, to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place or thing to be searched or seized.”

The second section of bill establishes limits and procedures on the collection, retention, use and sharing of student and teacher data.

The bill cleared the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee with a do-pass recommendation. It can now move on to the full Senate for consideration.

Based on model legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) called the OffNow Coalition, the sections of SB819 known as the Missouri Fourth Amendment Protection Act address three of the four legislative goals of the OffNow coalition.

  1. Prohibiting state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. Includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity.
  2. Blocking public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.
  3. Providing sanctions against corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.

The Missouri Fourth Amendment Protection Act would work together with a proposed state constitutional amendment moving toward approval in the Missouri legislature to addresses the fourth OffNow legislative goal. SJR 27 proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would add electronic communications to the objects protected from search or seizure without a warrant under the Missouri constitution’s search and seizure clause. If SJR27 passes out of the full legislature, the amendment language will go before voters in the next general election. SJR27 has also passed out of committee and will come up before the full Senate in the near future.

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.

Working together, SJR27 and SB819 will hinder unconstitutional spying and immediately end one if its practical effects in Missouri.

ACTION ITEMS

In Missouri: Take action to support SJR27 and SB819 HERE.

Other states: Contact your state legislators today – urge them to introduce similar legislation. Model bills and contact info HERE.

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