TOPEKA, Kan., January 3, 2014 — While privacy advocates await the outcome of two opposing federal court rulings in favor of and opposed to NSA data collection programs, a state representative in Kansas has introduced a bill to thwart the practical effect of NSA spying, and help protect the privacy of people living there.
Pre-filed by State Rep. Brett Hildabrand, the Kansas Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act addresses what some privacy advocates consider the biggest concern over NSA data collection: information-sharing.
The bill would ban all state and local government in the state from “possessing or attempting to possess” such information unless a person gives “express and informed consent,” or the local or state government “obtains a warrant, upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Shane Trejo is the national campaign lead for the OffNow.org coalition of organizations working to push back against NSA spying in the states. He took the position that blocking information-sharing with state and local law enforcement is an important part of their efforts.
“While we are certainly concerned about the NSA collecting and storing data, because that itself is a violation of our right to privacy, we are possibly even more concerned with what they do with that data. Since we know they are already sharing information collected without warrant with local law enforcement, legislation like this takes a big step towards blocking what the NSA wants to do with all that data,” said Trejo.
Information-sharing of data collected without a warrant is not just a “concern” of Fourth Amendment activists, leaks have shown that it is already happening.
As Reuters reported in August, 2013, the secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.”
Documents obtained by Reuters show that these cases “rarely involve national security issues,” and that local law enforcement is directed by SOD to “conceal how such investigations truly begin.”
Hildabrand’s legislation would ban that practice within the state of Kansas. “The Fourth Amendment Protection Act was written to protect electronic media in Kansas from warrantless searches. I want to make sure that electronic privacy in Kansas is protected,” he said.
In early-December, U.S. News reported that Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward would be introducing similar legislation for her state, but Hiladabrand’s is the first to be formally introduced in the country.
Trejo applauded the effort and suggested that more states would be considering such legislation soon.
“There are four strategic points where states can take action to thwart the effect of NSA spying. Provision of resources, university partnerships, corporate sanctions, and information-sharing. Each bill introduced is an important piece of the puzzle. We are happy to see Kansas and Arizona taking big steps forward with bills for 2014. Our sources tell us to expect ten states considering similar legislation in the coming months.”
Kansas House Bill 2421 (HB2421) was prefiled for introduction on Dec. 31, 2013. Before the full state house has an opportunity to vote on the bill, it will first be assigned to a committee for consideration after the legislative session begins on Jan. 13.
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