Inspired by Edward Snowden, Lawmakers Want Missouri to Stand Against NSA Surveillance

Jun 17, 2014 at 5:45 am
click to enlarge Inspired by Edward Snowden, Lawmakers Want Missouri to Stand Against NSA Surveillance
David Drexler/Wikimedia

The "Snowden effect" has hit the Show-Me State, and two state lawmakers hope the feds will take notice.

Sen. Rob Schaaf and Rep. Paul Curtman, both Republicans, have added a ballot to the August 5 primary that will allow Missourians to vote on whether the government shall be allowed to access their electronic communications without a search warrant.

The question on the ballot reflects a desire to modernize the language of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against certain searches and seizures in one's home, but not necessarily against one's digital footprint. Here's what voters will be asked:

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?"

See also: Claire McCaskill: Firm That Checked Edward Snowden, NSA Leaker, Under Investigation

Schaaf tells Daily RFT that the ballot question is something people believe should be a common right.

"You're protected under the Missouri constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. constitution that you will be secure in your persons, papers, homes and effects," he says. "And this would just add on 'electronic communications' to that, which is what people expect. People want to be secure in knowing that if they text each other that the government isn't going to be snooping and reading all of their texts and emails."

If the constitutional amendment passes, SJR 27 will make Missouri the first state in the country that will have made a constitutional response to the federal government's massive surveillance reach, the extent of which was revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Schaaf and Curtman aren't shy in admitting that the amendment was inspired by Snowden's intelligence leaks, calling their measure "a direct response to revelations about the scope and nature of the NSA's domestic spying programs."

However, that doesn't mean that Missourians will be protected from the NSA just yet. Schaaf tells Daily RFT that the amendment could only apply to government entities within the state, such as police departments.

Click on the next page to learn more about the proposed amendment...