Massachusetts Wants To Make Surveillance Easier, While Texas Is Making It Harder

from the two-different-states,-two-different-views dept

It appears that Massachusetts and Texas are taking two rather different approaches to allowing surveillance of its citizens. Texas this week signed into law a bill that prohibits accessing emails by the government without a warrant. The bill is pretty simple: it goes beyond what the current federal law, ECPA, allows, in saying that if law enforcement wants to access someone's emails, they need a warrant (something that many of us think should be required under the 4th Amendment already). Meanwhile, it appears that Massachusetts is going in the other direction, pushing a bill that would make it much easier to wiretap anyone's phones. Specifically, the bill would do the following:
1) Remove the requirement that an electronic wiretapping warrant be connected with organized crime, or indeed with serious crimes more generally. Potentially, even minor crimes like marijuana possession could become eligible for wiretapping by state authorities.

2) Double the length of an authorized wiretap, from 15 to 30 days.

3) Legalize mass interception of communications at telecommunications switching stations, rather than through individual wiretaps on individual phone numbers.
All of them are deeply concerning, with the last one being potentially unconstitutional. But that first one may have the most immediate direct impact, since it would basically give law enforcement the ability to go after anyone they suspect of almost any offense and hit them with a wiretap. If you think that wouldn't be abused, you haven't been paying attention to how law enforcement (especially local law enforcement) has abused all sorts of powers in the past.

The EFF has put together a petition to try to get Massachusetts lawmakers to realize what an incredibly bad idea this would be.

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  1. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), 20 Jun 2013 @ 5:42am


    I thought Liberal states were supposed to be beacons of sanity, rationale and personal freedoms.

    At least that's what Family Guy keeps preaching episode after episode.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2013 @ 7:41am

    perhaps execute this on the bloody moron who is behind it, then lay on the desk in front of him all the printed pages of conversations etc between him and whoever over a period up to the date of a meeting. see how that person then starts to squirm! like so many bad ideas, they are only bad when the person who is instrumental in the introduction and execution of them is the subject. while anyone else is the subject, there's nothing wrong at all!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Pragmatic, 20 Jun 2013 @ 7:44am

    There's "apparently liberal" and "actually liberal."

    Apparently liberal representatives are corporate shills in liberal clothing.

    Actual liberals are all in favor of upholding the Constitution.

    I can't help wondering if the spirit of Massachusetts is indeed the spirit of America if these are the kinds of laws they are making.

    In any case, "More welfare" is the wrong approach to an economic downturn. What we need is "more jobs" to put more money into the system for public services. FYI, Massachusetts representatives, spying on us ain't a public service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Loki, 20 Jun 2013 @ 8:07am

    The problem with the Texas bill is that it only applies to state and local authorities, and clearly has no control over federal authorities (obviously). The bigger question is that, while state and local authorities are constrained from gathering this information directly, can it be "interpreted" in such a way that agencies can do an "end run" around it and just get the data directly from the feds?

    We already know that government agencies are becoming increasingly efficient at manipulating language to suit their desires.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2013 @ 8:34am


    Yup, Texas will simply ask the fed for info because they can not get it themselves. Added bonus, as a result they do not have to pay for it.

    Business is BOOMING in Texas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 20 Jun 2013 @ 8:37am

    well, as long as they aren't reading my 'correspondence'...

    i know that mike/et al have discussed this on occasion, BUT, it appears to me to be THE overriding issue to pin down:
    searches and seizures of papers and effects has NOT been modernized to include shit that 99.99% of us WOULD consider as being covered under these inalienable rights...

    fucking gummint is acting as if it ain't china ink written with a quill on handmade hemp paper in an envelope with a wax seal on it, then it ain't covered no more...

    THAT is bullshit, plain and simple...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 20 Jun 2013 @ 9:12am

    My mother was born and raised in Massachusetts, and is doubtless rolling over in her grave.

    ... Oh wait, she was cremated and her ashes scattered.

    Well, then, her ashes are... um...

    OK, I got nothin'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re:

    Except the Feds don't really like to share. They know they are getting it illegally, which is one of the reasons it was secret in the first place. Sharing their ill gotten gains with local law enforcement will only open them up to further scrutiny about how they obtained the information in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2013 @ 9:19am


    The answer to that is to make the warrant mandatory for the mere possession of it regardless of where you got it from such that if you want to use it, you have to prove you got the warrant BEFORE you requested it even from the federal government otherwise it is not admissible as evidence in a case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 20 Jun 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: huh...

    There are no "liberal" states. Liberalism as an ideology has not existed in the halls of political power for at least several decades. I can only think of four or five politicians in the whole federal government that can be legitimately called "liberal".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2013 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, it's so difficult for states to lookup fingerprints in the fed database or have a look at tax returns

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    trevor, 20 Jun 2013 @ 11:19am

    Is today Opposite day?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous, 20 Jun 2013 @ 4:25pm

    Massachusetts should drop the M from its name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2013 @ 1:03am

    Texas isn't in as big a need for a strong survailence program..90% of the state's citizens own a gun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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