Calif. senators intro bill to stop state from aiding NSA spying

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State agencies would be banned from helping warrantless snooping.
State agencies would be banned from helping warrantless snooping.

Two California senators have introduced legislation that would ban state agencies, officials – and even corporations providing services to the state – from assisting the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance of citizens.

The bill (PDF), which was introduced on Monday by Sens. Ted Lieu, D, Torrance, and Joel Anderson, R, San Diego, would aim to rein in the requests and resources made available to the National Security Agency (NSA), and other federal agencies, without a warrant.

“To collect data on Californians, the NSA sometimes relies upon services provided by the state and/or private entities that provide services on behalf of the state,” a Monday release from Sen. Lieu's office said. “Lieu's bill would ban state agencies, officials, and corporations providing services to the state from giving any material support, participation or assistance to any federal agency to collect electronic or metadata of any person, unless there has been a warrant issued that specifically describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”

In a Monday in-house radio interview (available here), Lieu explained that the bill takes a page from the Trust Act, which went into effect last Wednesday. The Trust Act limits Calif. law enforcement agencies' need to comply with federal immigration authorities requesting fingerprints gleaned from local and state police.

“What we're doing is similar to what the legislature did with the Trust Act last year, which told local officials to not cooperate with federal immigration officials,” Lieu said in the interview. “Here, we're telling local officials to not cooperate with federal agencies who are searching and seizing electronic and metadata without a warrant.”

The anti-snooping bill has been named the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, as it is meant to protect unreasonable search and seizure of citizens said to be carried out under NSA's data collection programs exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“The Fourth Amendment requires the government to only search and seize records if they have reasonable suspicion,” said Lieu. “It cannot be reasonable that every American is reasonably suspicious simply because we make and receive phone calls," Lieu said, referencing one of the many forms of communications the government has intercepted.

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