California’s liberal government often (almost always) frustrates me. But sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.
The federal government would need a warrant from a judge if it wants the cooperation of California officials in searching residents’ cellphone and computer records, under a bill making its way through the state legislature.
The bill, which passed the state Senate with just one opposing vote on Monday, was introduced in the wake of information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showing massive internal surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA.
“The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It says the government shall not engage in unreasonable search and seizure,” said the bill’s author, Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu, of Torrance. “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.”
The California bill is the farthest along of several such measures that have been introduced in eight states, according to Lieu’s spokesman Jeff Gozzo, including Alaska, Arizona and Oklahoma.
Also, Montana has passed a similar law affirming the Fourth Amendment and mandating that state agencies operate in terms of it. Of course, unlike California, Montana started their bill before anyone had heard of Edward Snowden. That should remind us that it was obvious to many that the Federal Government was spying on us before Snowden confirmed it.
The California bill would not allow law enforcement and other officials in the most populous U.S. state to assist federal agencies looking for records of phone calls, Internet use or other electronic activity by residents unless a warrant has been issued by a judge.
It is hard to know how much the NSA will be obstructed by this sort of legislation. But even if it does very little to stop NSA spying, it communicates to the Federal Government that we are not happy with the way they are spying on us. It also communicates that fact to patriots in the rest of the country, letting them know that others feel as they do.