In response to repeated federal admissions of widespread warrantless spying on innocent American citizens, the State Senate passed on May 19 bipartisan legislation that would ban the state from supporting or assisting the federal government in unconstitutional spying and data dragnets on Californian citizens and their information.
“The National Security Agency’s massive and indiscriminate collecting of phone data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a threat to our liberty and freedom,” Lieu, D-Santa Monica, stated after Senate Bill 828 cleared the Senate 29-1.
To collect electronic and metadata information, the NSA sometimes relies upon services provided by the state. In order to prevent taxpayers’ money from going towards violating their own rights, SB 828 would ban 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.
Lieu noted that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the following: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
“All 317 million Americans cannot reasonably be considered to be suspicious simply for making or receiving telephone calls,” Lieu said. “The NSA’s blanket seizure of the telephone records of all Americans is therefore an ‘unreasonable seizure’ by any definition of the term under the Fourth Amendment.”
Recent media articles also state the NSA’s surveillance program on Americans extends to not just phone records, but also all types of electronic data, including emails, text messages and information stored on Americans’ smart phones.
“State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency from indiscriminate spying on its own citizens and gathering electronic or metadata that violates the Fourth Amendment,” Lieu said.
Lieu’s bill follows successful passage last year of his bipartisan resolution urging Congress to reconsider its vote for the NSA to stop its unconstitutional practices.
SB 828 will be heard in an Assembly policy committee in June.