2014-05-20 04:34:21 UTC
By Sharon Bernstein, Sacramento Mon May 19, 2014 10:16pm EDT
(Reuters) - The federal government would need a warrant from a judge if
it wants the cooperation of California officials in searching residents'
cellphone and computer records, under a bill making its way through the
The bill, which passed the state Senate with just one opposing vote on
Monday, was introduced in the wake of information leaked by former
National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showing massive
internal surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA.
"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. "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."
The California bill is the farthest along of several such measures that
have been introduced in eight states, according to Lieu's spokesman Jeff
Gozzo, including Alaska, Arizona and Oklahoma.
It comes as Congress wrestles with a similar bill at the national level.
A federal judge ruled last year that the National Security Agency's
practice of gathering so-called meta-data on U.S. residents was likely
unconstitutional, but the ruling is being appealed by the Obama
The California bill would not allow law enforcement and other officials
in the most populous U.S. state to assist federal agencies looking for
records of phone calls, Internet use or other electronic activity by
residents unless a warrant has been issued by a judge.
It was opposed by the California District Attorneys Association, which
said the bill was too vague.