Missourians can fight electronic government spying at ballot box


By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org

Missouri residents will have the chance Nov. 4 to fight back against government electronic spying by amending their state constitution.

HANDS OFF: Missouri residents will have the chance on Nov. 4 to fight back against government electronic spying by amending their state constitution.

On Friday, Missouri lawmakers passed a joint resolution, SJ 27, that asks residents to vote to amend the Constitution of Missouri to codify electronic privacy protections into the very fabric of their state legal code.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, now awaits Missouri residents at the ballot box, bypassing the governor’s desk since it’s a bill regarding a constitutional amendment.

Following SJ 27′s passage through the House on Friday, Schaaf tweeted, “My SJR 27 passed! Voters will decide if electronic communications and data should be protected against unreasonable search and seizure!”

Schaff’s chief of staff. Chris Dunn, previously told Watchdog.org he believed Missouri voters were upset at the level of government intrusion into their lives, noting the highly positive response the bill received from the public and from colleagues.

The bill passed unanimously in the House, and 31-1 in the Senate.

Shane Trejo, spokesman for the OffNow coalition, a privacy advocacy group, expressed his approval of the bill, saying legislation like SJ 27 can “significantly reduce the practical effect” of what agencies like the National Security Agency are trying to do with electronic data collected without a warrant.

“Compliance with the NSA’s illegal spying program would be illegal in Missouri if this is passed, and that is no small feat,” said Trejo in a blog post Friday.

OffNow.org, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union in partnership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, have been working with state lawmakers across the country to strengthen citizens’ electronic privacy protections against government agents.

Contact Josh Peterson at jpeterson@watchdog.org. Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson