from the a-widening-split-between-the-federal-government-and-its-constituents dept
The NSA's new data center in Utah has provided the flashpoint for legislation targeted at "nullifying" the agency by cutting off its access to public utilities and/or leveraging the powers granted to states to combat federal government overreach. An activist group known as The Tenth Amendment Center proposed a state law that would cut off the new data center's much needed water supply, along with any other public utility or service, like sanitation and road repair, in hopes of (at minimum) forcing the NSA to reconsider its collection tactics, or failing that, to find a new home.
Now, more states are joining the push-back against the agency, again using legislation crafted at the state level to curtail the NSA's overreach, as The New American reports.
In Arizona, SB1156, which has 14 Republican sponsors, was introduced by state Sen. Kelli Ward. It would bar the state from providing material support to the agency’s activities and ban any data collected without a warrant from being used in court.New Hampshire
Ward announced her intentions in December to introduce a bill that would keep Arizona from supporting the NSA.
HB 1533 is a bipartisan bill sponsored by two GOP lawmakers and one Democrat. The measure requires law enforcement to obtain “a warrant to search information in a portable electronic device.”New Hampshire's government is also considering another bill (HB 1619), which restores the expectation of privacy to information given to third parties, something the NSA, FBI and others have relied on for years to acquire data without warrants.
Section IV of the bill mandates that “A government entity that purposely violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”
An individual shall have an expectation of privacy in personal information, including personal identifiers, content, and usage, given or available to third-party providers of information and services, including telephone; electric, water and other utility services; internet service providers; social media providers; banks and financial institutions; insurance companies; and credit card companies.As The New American notes, this restoration goes even further than just protecting American citizens. The wording specifically notes this applies to "individuals" rather than just "citizens," extending the protection to non-citizen US residents and visitors.
The Tennessee Fourth Amendment Protection Act was introduced by State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) late Tuesday evening. Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) will file the companion bill in the House.The entity mentioned in the legislation, OffNow, is a creation of the Tenth Amendment Center, and its legislative activity seeks to nullify the agency through the power of states and their public utilities. With enough support, many states could make themselves inhospitable hosts for the NSA by tying utility access to stipulations like the above. At the very least, state governments who pass laws like these will be "on the record" as not being complicit in the NSA's questionable collection activities. It also indicates they're willing to combat government overreach, which in the age of Real ID, nationalized health care and domestic surveillance, is a good stance to be taking.
Based on model legislation drafted by the OffNow coalition, SB1849 would prohibit the state of Tennessee from “providing material support to…any federal agency claiming the power to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant” as required by the Fourth Amendment.
The real test of legislation like those above will be when the NSA offers to set up shop in these locations. Turning down the agency means turning down a whole lot of federal money and additional employment, something that may not sit well with many constituents, and even less so with certain politicians.
New Hampshire's and Arizona's bills will face additional challenges as neither limits the wording to only the NSA's collections/"searches." (New Hampshire's bill only says "federal agency.") Arizona's in particular will affect local law enforcement as well, and if they've become used to a certain level of warrantless access, they won't be too thrilled to give that up. The heaviest push-back there may be from local PDs and sheriffs departments, although the arguments against the bills will be very familiar -- swapping only "crime" (or "drugs") for "terrorism."