CA Bill Aims to Protect Residents' Privacy in NSA Data Collection

A California bill aims to tighten rules governing how the federal government would be able to access cellphone and computer records

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A bill aims to tighten rules governing how the NSA would be able to access cellphone and computer records from Californians. Gadi Schwartz reports from Torrance for the NBC4 News at 11 on Monday, May 19, 2014 (Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014)

    The California Senate on Monday passed legislation that would require a judge to issue a warrant before the NSA can collect information from anyone in the state.

    Senate Bill 828 was created in response to repeated federal admissions of widespread warrantless spying on innocent American citizens, said the bill's author, Ted Lieu, D-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," he said after the bill cleared the Senate 29-1.

    Recent media articles also state the NSA’s surveillance program on Americans extends to not just phone records, but also all types of electronic data, including emails, text messages and information stored on Americans' smart phones, Lieu said.

    "State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency from indiscriminate spying on its own citizens and gathering electronic or metadata that violates the Fourth Amendment," Lieu said.

    SB 828 will be heard in an Assembly policy committee in June.

    "The Fourth Amendment is very clear, it's says you cannot engage in unreasonable searches and seizures if you are the government without a specific warrant," Lieu said.  "The NSA does have specific warrants for the hundreds of millions of Americans for which it's seizing this phone data."

    The National Security Agency and the CIA are tasked with gathering foreign -- not domestic -- intelligence.

    Agency rules say they must have a "reasonable, articulated suspicion" about the people they target, and are required to sift through all the data they collect and eliminate any that might have been intercepted from an innocent American, on U.S. soil or abroad.

    In March, the Obama Administration proposed that Congress overhaul the electronic surveillance program by having phone companies hold onto the call records as they do now.

    But there remain a number of significant ambiguities that allow Americans' data to be swept up, saved and analyzed, according to a series of disclosures from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks source Pvt. Chelsea (previously known as Bradley) Manning and the federal government itself.

    The Associated Press and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

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