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California Legislation Affirms Privacy Rights Against NSA Spying Methods 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-only-for-prius-owners dept.
New submitter amxcoder writes: "A recent bill making its way through the California state legislature reaffirms 4th amendment protections against NSA-style wiretapping of cell phones and computer records, and declares that the NSA's data collection methods and practices are unconstitutional. The bill has passed the California Senate with only a single opposing vote. It would require a warrant to be issued by a Judge before the state's law enforcement and other departments can assist federal agencies in obtaining these records. Similar bills in other states are trickling through the legislative process, but California's is the furthest along. At the least, it will establish that a state of 38 million people are unhappy with the NSA's methods."
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California Legislation Affirms Privacy Rights Against NSA Spying Methods

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:21PM (#47050917) Journal
    Who's up for 24/7 full documentation of the every move, utterance, and action, of the asshole who voted against it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Guest316 (3014867)
      TFA also says the CDAA opposed it as well, for being "too vague." This could be a genuine issue. For one, it could have unintended secondary effects (such as being open enough to be abused in ways it was never intended), or itself be ruled unconstitutional for being too wide-sweeping in its vagueness. This is just speculation for now as I try to dig up more info.

      For that matter, I'm not sure of the utility of a state law reaffirming the Constitution's constitutionality. But it could be interesting to
      • District Attorneys are the highest level prosecutors in a given jurisdiction. This doesn't mean that they are ignorant of the law; but their professional imperatives are in line with easy and efficient prosecution, rather than pesky procedural inconveniences.

        They may be right in this case; but I'd want to see some solid argument that 'too vague' actually means 'too vague' rather than 'has the potential to step on my toes'.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:46PM (#47051157)

      This is the guy according to the vote log: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
      I'm emailing him now.

      Here's videos of him:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
      https://www.youtube.com/result... [youtube.com]

      Have fun commenting.

      His political contributers:
      http://maplight.org/california... [maplight.org]

      • His political contributors are indeed interesting, telecoms, casinos, and indian tribes. Presumably the tribe thing also has something to do with casinos. I don't quite get what casinos have to do with the NSA and the constitution though.

        The maplight site is really interesting. I looked up my congressman, Greg Walden, to see what light Maplight would shed on his corrupting influences. Most of his money comes from cable companies. No wonder he is opposed to net neutrality.

        Thanks for pointing out Mapligh

        • His political contributors are indeed interesting, telecoms, casinos, and indian tribes. Presumably the tribe thing also has something to do with casinos. I don't quite get what casinos have to do with the NSA and the constitution though.

          The maplight site is really interesting. I looked up my congressman, Greg Walden, to see what light Maplight would shed on his corrupting influences. Most of his money comes from cable companies. No wonder he is opposed to net neutrality.

          Thanks for pointing out Maplight.

          You need to take contributions with a grain of salt. Most big industries decided the best course of action is to pretty much donate to EVERY campaign where the opponent isn't outright opposed to what you do for business. If you go look at what the cable industry as a whole donates, you'll see its well over 90% of politicians.

          The real bribery is what they do for the candidate after he leaves office. While in office, it's a race to the bottom to see who can garner enough favors in industry to get the big lucr

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Why do you even allow corporations to donate to politicians? Why isn't they a low cap on donations so that ordinary people can have somewhat equal influence?

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              Because judges have ruled that corporations [wikipedia.org] are people too, and that money [wikipedia.org] is equal to speech.

              Ergo, corporations and rich people can have more 'speech' by virtue of having more money.

              Like it or hate it, that's the law of the land.

        • He's not. He just has no idea what net neutrality is. Thus, he votes the way the money tells him, and there's no money in net neutrality.
    • I'm not, because that would make you just as bad as the NSA.

      Maybe that person has a good reason for voting against it. The article itself is very scant on details, but it does have near the bottom:

      It was opposed by the California District Attorneys Association, which said the bill was too vague.

      So maybe the intent of the law is quite good; I think we can all agree with that. However, it is possible that the law is poorly written.

      This would not be the first well intentioned yet poorly written law in history.

      • Maybe that person has a good reason for voting against it.

        Well, in that case, it's a good thing about legislators in representative democracies that they can be held accountable and asked for explanations. ;-)

        • by s.petry (762400)
          What the hell is with this fad of people claiming that the US is a "representative democracy"? The USA was founded as a Democratic Republic. It's bad enough that corruption has turned us into an Oligarchy, we don't need people trying to confuse what we are any further. We need to restore our country, not have people making up false claims.
    • It was probably Dianne 'what do you have to hide' Feinstein, who ironically went apeshit when the FBI went through one of her computers.
      • by chihowa (366380) *

        She's not in the California state legislature, though. Back to civics class for you!

      • Unfortunately, the graduated from the state level and now infests congress(a fairly prime senate seat, no less). I'd be delighted to see her relegated to the little league, ideally some horrid little municipality in the ass end of nowhere; but such is not to be.
  • Silly law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:22PM (#47050931)
    The DOJ will simply take the State of California to court. CA will lose.
    • by bobbied (2522392)

      The DOJ will simply take the State of California to court. CA will lose.

      Nope... There is no need to do anything because the law is pointless.

      The NSA already gets warrants..... Of course, from a secret court, but they are warrants none the less.

      What can a State do? Require one of THEIR state judges sign the federal warrant? Yea, like that's going to happen.

      Now what MIGHT happen, is the Attorney General of the state might sue the federal government in a vain attempt to enforce their law. I'm pretty sure the case would fail just past the doorway in federal court in short orde

      • by mspohr (589790)

        I think the problem is that the NSA doesn't get warrants for most of it's data collection. It just sucks up everything without a warrant. That is the basic problem with the NSA... it doesn't get warrants.
        http://www.digitaljournal.com/... [digitaljournal.com]
        "The bill, entitled Senate Bill 828, would require a warrant for any information collected through data mining to be admissible in court. Furthermore, it would impose sanctions on companies that share information with the NSA without warrants, and would target utility compan

        • by arth1 (260657)

          So all they need is a rubberstamping judge who signs warrants just as broad as the TLA's ask for.
          This isn't going to change a thing without transparency.

          • How do you issue a warrant if there is no reasonable grounds of a suspected crime?

            • by arth1 (260657)

              How do you issue a warrant if there is no reasonable grounds of a suspected crime?

              "Reasonable" is a slimy word. It can mean whatever you want it to mean.
              It is reasonable that suspected terrorist Ahmed Badenringbender has the capability and means to e-mail every citizen with a mail account from any number of accounts, ergo we need a warrant to monitor the e-mail of all citizens in order to be certain to capture all e-mail to and from from the suspect.

              But even that isn't needed - without transparency, you find a judge willing to rubberstamp all requests. Which is pretty how it has worked

    • On what grounds would they take them to court? The law doesn't say that the NSA or whoever else isn't allowed to collect the information on Californians. I.e. It puts no limits on the federal government. Rather, it merely says that the state and its officials won't assist the feds in the collection of data until the NSA goes through public channels and gets a proper warrant. IANAL, but I don't see how this runs afoul of anything.

    • And then what? How will the feds enforce such a decision?

      And what happens if a dozen more states join, and also refuse to aid and assist the NSA, despite any ruling by the federal court?

      Yes, that would be a rebellion, effectively. But an unarmed, non-violent one (well, unless the feds decide to enforce it by violence). Better than the violent kind, don't you think? And what other options are there when all other avenues of protecting a natural right are exhausted - as seems to be the case on the federal lev

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So are they going to unplug http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A ?

    • by PPH (736903)

      Only if AT&T files a complaint. Odds are they will say it is 'voluntary' to avoid reprisals by the federal government.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:29PM (#47051013)

    ...and California, much as it likes to think it's a country unto itself, has NO jurisdiction over the NSA, over their methods, even over their agents (when acting in an official capacity and all those other qualifiers)

    If it makes the CA legislature feel good about themselves to do this, great! But it means about as much as the lot of them threatening to hold their breath till the NSA stops spying...

    • by mspohr (589790) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:35PM (#47051057)

      This applies to California State law enforcement. California certainly does have jurisdiction over their own employees.
      It requires a court order signed by a judge before California state employees assist the Feds. This is something that Federal law and NSA skirt around. In California, it should slow them down.

      • by Warhawke (1312723)
        It will slow the Feds down about as much as a mild speed bump would slow down an Abrams tank. State agencies cannot preempt a federal administration's scheme. The DOJ would only need to take California to court for enacting a law that obstructs the general scheme and scope of authority of the National Surveillance Agency, and the law will be struck down as unconstitutional. States cannot issue laws that bind or obstruct federal activities, well-intentioned as those laws may be. This is the same reason A
        • The "obstruction" here is refusal to render assistance in any way, shape or form. How exactly will the feds enforce that, even if the court rules in their favor, short of completely taking over the government of California?

      • You seem to be under the misapprehension that the Feds NEED California Law Enforcement assistance to spy on Californians.

        They don't. Any more than the FBI requires the assistance of local LEOs. The FBI works as it wills, without consulting with the locals unless they absolutely must (usually to get the locals to stop trying to arrest their suspects till the FBI is done with its investigation).

        • by mspohr (589790)

          The Feds need the cooperation of California law enforcement and California corporations to spy on Californians. If they have a warrant, this is not a problem. If no warrant, there is a problem.

    • ...and California, much as it likes to think it's a country unto itself, has NO jurisdiction over the NSA, over their methods, even over their agents (when acting in an official capacity and all those other qualifiers)

      If it makes the CA legislature feel good about themselves to do this, great! But it means about as much as the lot of them threatening to hold their breath till the NSA stops spying...

      So... you didn't even read the summary before you got on your soap box?

      It would require a warrant to be issued by a Judge before the state's law enforcement and other departments can assist federal agencies in obtaining these records.

      It seems to me they have all the jurisdiction in the world over what the bill covers.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      ...and California, much as it likes to think it's a country unto itself, has NO jurisdiction over the NSA, over their methods, even over their agents (when acting in an official capacity and all those other qualifiers)

      If it makes the CA legislature feel good about themselves to do this, great! But it means about as much as the lot of them threatening to hold their breath till the NSA stops spying...

      Hey, Elections are coming up. Politicians need positive stuff to put in their campaign ads so they pass a pointless law so they can act like they care. This law makes for a good sound bite, so you vote for it, even if it's stupid, pointless and a total waste of time.

    • ...and California, much as it likes to think it's a country unto itself, has NO jurisdiction over the NSA, over their methods, even over their agents

      They're in luck then, since this law merely deals with state officials over whom they DO have jurisdiction and control over their methods. Specifically, this law places no limits on the NSA or the data it can collect. It merely limits the state's involvement until the NSA comes up with a warrant. Put differently, the feds can still collect all the data they want, and the state can't do anything to stop it, but the state won't be helping them do it any longer. That's it.

      • by mspohr (589790)

        Reading is a useful skill:
        http://www.digitaljournal.com/ [digitaljournal.com]... [digitaljournal.com]
        "The bill, entitled Senate Bill 828, would require a warrant for any information collected through data mining to be admissible in court. Furthermore, it would impose sanctions on companies that share information with the NSA without warrants, and would target utility companies and universities which did the same. "

        • Reading is a useful skill

          So true. Here's the actual bill itself [ca.gov] (it's a short and relatively easy read). I stand by what I said: the bill puts no limits on the feds, and deals merely with the people in the state's jurisdiction. Two things I missed: corporations are affected by this as well, so they can't share the information either, and it also treats evidence obtained by the feds without a warrant as off-limits and inadmissible in state courts (which your quote mentions). Even so, it does nothing to stop the feds from collecting

          • by mspohr (589790)

            So... this means nothing?
            it would impose sanctions on companies that share information with the NSA without warrants, and would target utility companies and universities which did the same.
            There are a lot of tech companies in California.

            • So... this means nothing?

              Far from it! My assertion was merely that this law does nothing to regulate the federal government, but by no means was I intending to suggest that it was meaningless. Making things harder for the feds and refusing to take part in an illegal activity is always a good (and surprising!) thing, especially when a large state does it, and especially so because it applies to corporations, for the reasons you pointed out.

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              Not quite.

              The supremacy clause in the constitution will require the companies, utilities, and universities to play ball. The state law will have to take a back seat because you cannot violate a law when compelled to comply with a law. Or in other words, if California law made something federal law enforces illegal, then the California law cannot be in force in conflict with the federal law.

              I'm told that the warrant-less searches are part of the Patriot act along with NSA letters and installing monitoring eq

              • by mspohr (589790)

                I think that one important point is that the Federal warrantless searches are illegal and this law would force that to be tested in court.

              • Not quite.

                The supremacy clause in the constitution will require the companies, utilities, and universities to play ball. The state law will have to take a back seat because you cannot violate a law when compelled to comply with a law. Or in other words, if California law made something federal law enforces illegal, then the California law cannot be in force in conflict with the federal law.

                I am sure the authors of this bill know that the feds will still be able to force the utilities and universities to comply. But to protect themselves from sanctions under state law recipients of federal orders would probably have to show that they really were forced. That might mean that they would have to go to court to oppose the federal order. If they submitted to an order which they could have gotten dismissed or narrowed, they might well be liable under state law.

                In effect, the intent of this law is to

    • ...and California, much as it likes to think it's a country unto itself, has NO jurisdiction over the NSA, over their methods, even over their agents (when acting in an official capacity and all those other qualifiers)

      If it makes the CA legislature feel good about themselves to do this, great! But it means about as much as the lot of them threatening to hold their breath till the NSA stops spying...

      As a CA resident, I'd like it if most of the CA legislature held their breath for that long. We might actually get to change a few seats in the next election!

    • by mspohr (589790)

      Read before you post:
      http://www.digitaljournal.com/ [digitaljournal.com]... [digitaljournal.com]
      "The bill, entitled Senate Bill 828, would require a warrant for any information collected through data mining to be admissible in court. Furthermore, it would impose sanctions on companies that share information with the NSA without warrants, and would target utility companies and universities which did the same. "

    • Yes, but this is about California law enforcement agencies cooperating with federal law enforcement agencies, essentially voluntarily. The law would make such cooperation not voluntary any more and would require a warrant. Congress would probably have to pass new legislation to change this. Good luck with that.
  • The NSA already ignores the US Constitution, the highest law of the land which they are sworn to uphold, or at least their bosses are when they're sworn in. Does anyone really think a state law (from a non-swing state) will matter?

    • by SammyIAm (1348279)
      As pointed out in a few other comment threads (and the article itself): California's legislation will prevent California law enforcement from assisting the NSA without a warrant. The NSA's not actually doing all its own work, and relies on (pressures) other agencies to provide data. This isn't to say the NSA won't find ways to go around law enforcement to spy on U.S. Citizens, but it will at least make it more difficult for them and help protect people in California's privacy.
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:36PM (#47051067)

    Nice federal highway funding there you have there, California. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

    • Nice federal income tax revenue from California [wikipedia.org] you have there, United States. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

      This is a game that can be played both ways.

      • by sfcat (872532) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @09:25PM (#47052959)

        Nice federal income tax revenue from California [wikipedia.org] you have there, United States. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

        This is a game that can be played both ways.

        Its actually worse than that. If you remove CA from the US economy, what do you think the jobs/GDP/other national growth metrics for the rest of the US look like over the last 30 years? Can you say perpetual depression? Removing CA from the US would be disastrous, for the other 49 states. Don't kid yourself about the size of the CA economy, its large and growing, unlike the most of the rest of the US. Oh, and we actually pay off our debts [nytimes.com]. You really think politicians from other states would want to have to explain those numbers to the voters?

  • Assuming this thing passes, the end state of the bill isn't acceptable. At best, public awareness incites a response from the DOJ which decides to overrule in the interest of national security. At best, it hastens a growing shrug of the shoulders from the public as the waves of abuse keep coming to light and people go about their business. Let's all retweet "F THE FCC" and it'll be about as effective...but it might get a laugh? Reclassify ISPs as common carriers already... (Damn. Lost my 14 y/o /. ID and
  • The federal government would need a warrant from a judge if it wants the cooperation of California officials

    I'm pretty sure the NSA can already get a lot of information WITHOUT cooperating with state government officials.

    • by PPH (736903)

      This is a good point.

      What might be effective is a law that could go after private entities for divulging third party data or providing access to it without a warrant. In other words, slap the cuffs on AT&T, Cisco and other executives. Immunity from prosecution only if they testify under oath about the details of monitoring programs they were coerced into.

    • The goal of these bills is not NSA information gathering activity per se, but the infrastructure associated with it - all those data collections centers etc. Note that this bans all kinds of "material support" by any state agency. This doesn't just mean police, but e.g. municipal power companies, as well.

      Having said that, NSA does not have any data centers in California (that anyone knows of, at least). They do have them in some other states which have similar bills in the work, though.

  • ...and fully stopped the NSA data collection process, what's to stop them from turning around a buying a similar feed from GCHQ?
  • Certainly everyone applauding this will agree that similar laws meant to reaffirm second amendment protections are equally necessary, equally valid, and equally worth fighting for!

    http://firearmsfreedomact.com/ [firearmsfreedomact.com]

    From the article:

    "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.

    Let's try a little modification....

    "The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It says the government shall not infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms," said no one in California's legislature, ever.

    Just remember, when you erode one part of the Constitution, you erode them all. Feinstein wants ALL of your rights. Buuuuut... let's hear your reasons why this is different.

    • Be careful what you're asking for. "Supporting states' rights", in the context of the Second Amendment, would mean reverting it to its original meaning whereby it only restricted what the Federal government could do, but did not limit any state legislature from enacting gun control laws. So, while it would mean repealing NFA and FOP and Brady's, and would mean no Federal AWB, it would also mean that California is free to legislate the same and more on state level, subject only to the California state consti

      • by felrom (2923513)

        McDonald v. Chicago incorporated the second amendment under the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment, to apply to the states too.

        • Sure it did, and in doing so it limited the rights of states to regulate guns.

          • by felrom (2923513)

            States no more have the power to regulate guns than the federal government does. Making that lack of power explicit by incorporating the second amendment under the due process clause deprives the states of nothing. Fundamental rights are fundamental rights, whether it's a state government or the federal government who seeks to take them away from you.

            The whole Bill of Rights and the idea of natural rights would all become a silly notion were states in possession of the legitimate power to restrict them.

  • The Fourth Amendment only applies to the Federal government, and no state statute can reduce or increase those rights. Of course, the state itself may be limited by the Fourth (through the Fourteenth), and in that case, no state statute can reduce those rights. California may try to pass laws that provide additional protection not governed by the Fourth, provided it does not violate the Supremacy clause, and that's fine, but its unlikely to limit federal activities expressly provided for by federal statut

    • by rossz (67331)

      The Fourth Amendment only applies to the Federal government ...

      Wrong. The 14th Amendment says otherwise, and the Supreme Court would also disagree with your statement.

  • when our government can trump them with their " think of the terrorists / kids / national security / state secrets " bullshit.

    They're already breaking constitutional laws on an epic scale, do you really think they give two shits about breaking some more ?

    It's akin to thinking the " no guns " sign on the front door of a bank will somehow magically avert a bank robbery :/

    A nice symbolic gesture perhaps, but laughable if anyone believes it will make any difference.

    The only way this gets fixed is when the compa
  • I hope this works, do you really think the power hungry politicians are going to stop spying on each other and the people, to get dirt on them for there own elections. As long as there is tax dollars sent to the government there will be the NSA, and they will get stronger as time goes on and technology gets better. So I'm sure they will definitely continue spying on us. Remember transparency by this US Government, so it will never stop. They will tell us that you the sheep, will stop watching you, the fa

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