California Lawmakers Introduce Fourth Amendment Protection Act, push back against NSA spying

California has entered the fray to stop unconstitutional NSA spying.

On Monday, Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act to prohibit any state support of the NSA.

“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.

Based on model legislation drafted by the OffNow coalition, SB828 prohibits the state of California and its subdivisions from “Providing material support, participation or assistance in any form to a federal agency that claims the power, by virtue of any federal law, rule, regulation or order, to collect electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.” It also bars any state funding to the NSA or any entity supporting it in the state.

Practically speaking, the bill:

  1. Prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. Includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity.
  2. Makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court.
  3. Blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.
  4. Provides sanctions against corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.

“I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place,” Lieu said. “That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights.  They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government.”

California joins Arizona in considering all four major provisions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.  Missouri and Kansas have also introduced legislation which covers the second step of the four-step plan at OffNow.org.

Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey says he expects at least four other states to take up the bill early in the 2014 session.

While the NSA does not currently operate a data or “threat operations” center in California, Maharrey said states around the country need to pass similar legislation to make NSA expansion more difficult.

“We know the NSA has aggressively worked to expand its physical locations because it maxed out the Baltimore area power grid in 2006.  They’ve built new locations in Utah and Texas, and expanded in several other states,” Maharrey said. “Since the NSA is expanding so wildly, it’s not unlikely that they’re planning to build new data centers and ‘threat operations centers’ in other locations. California’s high-tech industry makes it a likely candidate.  We can’t wait until the NSA opens up shop. This act yanks away the welcome mat and tells the NSA, ‘We don’t want you in California unless you follow the Constitution.’”

Six California state universities have partnerships with the NSA.  The California Fourth Amendment Protection Act would address the status of these schools as NSA “Centers of Academic Excellence.”

Maharrey called Lieu and Anderson working together to address the unconstitutional actions of the NSA a model of bipartisan cooperation.

“This crosses party lines. Left, right and even the generally apathetic are outraged that their government is spying on them day in and day out,” he said. “Violations of our basic civil liberties impacts us all -Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. For all of our political bickering, Americans rally around certain core principles enshrined in our Constitution. It’s fitting that Lieu and Anderson are standing together to defend these values.”