Tenth Amendment Center Blog
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.,
March 14, 2014 – Yesterday, the Missouri house overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban the obtaining of cellphone location tracking information without a warrant. House Bill 1388 (HB1388) prohibits use of such information in civil or criminal proceedings, and even bans its use as “an affidavit of probable cause in an effort to obtain a search warrant.”
Introduced by Rep. Robert Cornejo, the measure passed by a vote of 134-13.
HB1388 will not only add a key protection to bolster the privacy rights of Missourians from potential local abuse, it will also end some practical effects of unconstitutional data gathering by the federal government.
NSA collects, stores, and analyzes data on countless millions of people without a warrant, and without even the mere suspicion of criminal activity. The NSA tracks the physical location of people through their cellphones. In late 2013, the Washington Post reported that NSA is “gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” This includes location data on “tens of millions” of Americans each year – without a warrant.
Through fusion centers, state and local law enforcement act as “information recipients” to various federal departments under Information Sharing Environment (ISE). ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence, which is an umbrella covering 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA.
The NSA expressly shares warrantless data with state and local law enforcement through a super-secret DEA unit known as the Special Operations Division (SOD). That information is being used for criminal prosecutions. Reuters reported that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. Most of it involves routine criminal investigations.
In short – banning state government entities in Missouri from obtaining phone location tracking information without a warrant will block them from receiving that kind of information from federal agencies who routinely collect it without warrant.
HB1388 is part of a package of bills designed to thwart the surveillance state being considered in the Missouri legislature this year. SB819 would deny compliance and material support from the state to the NSA as long as they continue their unconstitutional spying programs. SJR27 would amend the Missouri State Constitution to protect residents’ electronic data from warrantless searches.