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MN Legislature Introduces Amendment To Protect Electronic Communications 46

Bob the Super Hamste writes: The Minnesota legislature has introduced an amendment to the State Constitution to enshrine the protections against unreasonable search and seizure to electronic communications and data. The amendment appears to have broad support in the State House, but leadership in the State Senate is lukewarm to it. In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz (DFL) had blocked the amendment, stating that he feels it is redundant. Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL) opposes the legislation because it is an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. If it passed, Minnesota would become only the second state to enact such a change (Missouri did so last year with support from 75% of voters).
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MN Legislature Introduces Amendment To Protect Electronic Communications

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I took the minute out of my day to email both of these guys who are holding this up in my state. Please consider doing the same. There is a very simple quick email form at both links.

    • Don't just e-mail the two listed senators. While they are the primary ones holding the bill up also send messages to you state congress member and state senator member encouraging them them support and pass the bill. Additionally encourage them to put pressure on the individuals holding up the bill.
  • The big question is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2015 @11:40PM (#49078147)

    How does Dayton feel about it?

  • by firewrought ( 36952 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2015 @12:01AM (#49078213)

    He feels it is redundant.

    Supposedly the Bill of Rights was controversial in its day because many of the founding fathers thought it would be unnecessary: the population would zealously guard their hard-earned liberty and the various protections of the Constitution (representational government, separation of powers, etc.) would prevent tyranny. In fact, they feared that by enumerating freedoms they would inadvertently limit them, which is why they ultimately included the 9th amendment [wikipedia.org] to say "hey, this isn't an exhaustive list" [though the practical effect of the 9th has been null].

    Fortunately, the Bill of Rights was passed despite being "redundant", and the courts have brought it into play several times when lawmakers worked up particularly nasty bills. Unfortunately, the courts have also weasel-worded their way into listing several exceptions to these amendments (especially where 1, 2, and 4 are concerned).

    • by linuxrocks123 ( 905424 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2015 @12:21AM (#49078237) Homepage Journal

      The story is actually very interesting. The Bill of Rights was enacted as a compromise to get the Constitution passed. The Constitution was not our first government -- that was the Articles of Confederation, but the Articles of Confederation basically wasn't working at all because it was a very poor design.

      Some highlights: it gave the federal government so little power it couldn't do anything. It couldn't even pass taxes; the states were supposed to voluntarily pitch in. It also required unanimous consent in Congress to pass any law, and Congress was all there was; there was no executive or judicial branch.

      So some of the leaders -- the Federalists -- drafted the Constitution to replace it. But there were Anti-Federalists, and they argued the central government would become so powerful it would eventually turn tyrannical. So, the Bill of Rights was added to placate them. We can see now that was a really, really Good Idea(TM).

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2015 @12:40AM (#49078285) Homepage Journal

        We can see now that was a really, really Good Idea(TM).

        We can also see that because it has no teeth -- there is no penalty for violating the constitution -- it wasn't able to do its job, and that is why, today, we have ex post facto laws, direct violations of most of the bill of rights, the inversion of the commerce clause, and judicial usurpation of article 5 powers. Not to mention a collapse of representation into corporate servitude, resulting in a de-facto oligarchy.

        So, we... Hey! Was that a Nipple Slip????

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          We can also see that because it has no teeth

          Then why are you still breathing? Your labor is not valuable enough to justify the seditious words you speak of. Sure, there is substantial encroachment on the framework that is described by the US Constitution, but it'd be a very different world, if it weren't working at all rather than working poorly.

          • by chihowa ( 366380 )

            You keep referring to "still breathing", as if state sanctioned murder of citizens for petty criticism is obligatory in the absence of the Constitution. There are plenty of countries without written constitutions where the post above wouldn't get you killed and there are plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with the Constitution to not murder people for speaking their mind.

            Is the world really so black and white to you? Can we not complain about the shortcomings of our system of government until we are

            • by khallow ( 566160 )

              You keep referring to "still breathing", as if state sanctioned murder of citizens for petty criticism is obligatory in the absence of the Constitution.

              He's publicly challenging authority. That's pretty open and shut. And dictatorships pretty much need to make examples of those who publicly challenge their rule or they cease to be the ones in charge.

              • by chihowa ( 366380 )

                Oh, so the world really is that black and white to you. Either the Constitution has teeth and punishes authority when it oversteps its bounds (which it clearly doesn't) or the US is a brutal dictatorship and citizens who challenge authority must be murdered to make an example (which it clearly isn't).

                There clearly isn't anything else in play here. Either the Constitution works or the government is murdering you. Open and shut.

                (Let alone the obvious existence of other countries that neither have a constituti

                • by khallow ( 566160 )

                  Oh, so the world really is that black and white to you.

                  Yes, because the world is that black and white.

      • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2015 @01:26AM (#49078409)

        I see the US Constitution bashed constantly in media, and occasionally here. You seem to hint at the same idea in your last sentence as well, but maybe I'm taking that wrong. The US was the best design in the history of Governments. Many compromises took place to enact it, but the idea was that it would be difficult to change (not impossible). We now have Politicians and Supreme court justices that believe the Constitution is a nuisance, and that is telling. Primarily that the US Constitution is still a thorn in their sides.

        If we taught kids the history of the Constitution and all that surrounded it, we would be much better off.

        I can dream can't I?

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2015 @01:47AM (#49078469)

    In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz (DFL) had blocked the amendment, stating that he feels it is redundant.

    Saying it's redundant implies there are already laws on the books that protect against unreasonable search and seizure of electronic communications -- yet those actions are being taken.

    So which is it, Ron? Either this is not redundant, and therefore a good idea in the scheme of checks and balances, or LEOs are getting unlawful access to electronic communications. Either way, there's a problem here that needs to be addressed.

    • In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz (DFL) had blocked the amendment, stating that he feels it is redundant.

      Saying it's redundant implies there are already laws on the books that protect against unreasonable search and seizure of electronic communications -- yet those actions are being taken.

      So which is it, Ron? Either this is not redundant, and therefore a good idea in the scheme of checks and balances, or LEOs are getting unlawful access to electronic communications. Either way, there's a problem here that needs to be addressed.

      It's a way of resolving a conflict between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

      Most of us would expect that when a group of people get together and explicitly state that they should be "secure in their papers", that that would mean essentially any private documents and correspondence.

      The current Federal approach, however, is to take the letter-of-the-law approach and since electronic documents aren't "paper", they consider them fair game. This not only allows them more power, it makes lawyers ha

      • by McFly777 ( 23881 )

        In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz (DFL) had blocked the amendment, stating that he feels it is redundant.

        . . .

        Thus, Mr. Latz slams the door on the literalists at the expense of appearing redundant.

        I would like to agree with Mr. Latz, it should be redundant. The problem is that too many courts, prosecutors, etc. have not considered electronic documents to be "papers" therefore it has already been found to not be redundant.

        • And it appears I read his position backwards. Instead of slamming the door, he wants to keep it open.

          Regardless of what Latz says one way or another, it should be redundant, but the courts and law enforcement have made it otherwise.

  • why did this even get put on the /. main page
    the summary itself provides damning evidence that this bill is a pointless act.

    this might get more press than the Montana hating state rep who wants to ban yoga pants, but not likely

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