The new law provides strong privacy protections for Montana citizens, requiring state and local government agencies to obtain a warrant before spying on electronic devices or communication services.
Except as provided in subsection (2), a government entity may not obtain the location information of an electronic device without a search warrant issued by a duly authorized court.
The law covers services that “provide to users of the service the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications,” and any device “that enables access to or use of an electronic communication service, remote computing service, or location information service.”
Even with some exceptions such as law enforcement access when a device is reported stolen or for “life threatening situations,” the new law provides extensive privacy protections that did not exist before.
The law represents a solid win for privacy in Montana, although confusion surrounding the new law does exist. Some media outlets have reported the legislation prohibits NSA spying. But the law does not apply to federal agencies, as section three of the definitions makes clear.
(3) “Government entity” means a state or local agency, including but no limited to a law enforcement entity or any other investigative entity, agency, department, division, bureau, board or commission or an individual acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of a state or local agency.
But Montana, and other states, can takes steps to thwart federal NSA spying and protect their citizens from federal intrusions. As we have learned from the recent Edward Snowden leaks, federal invasion of Americans’ privacy has run rampant.
James Madison pointed out in Federalist Number 46 that states can and should take steps to impede unconstitutional federal actions.
Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.
We need to put out heads together and come up with effective ways to hinder NSA spying. Noncompliance with federal officials goes a long way toward placing impediments in the pathway of federal agents. What kind of concrete steps at the state and local level can we come up with to battle federal spying?
We’d love your input!
1) If you have any ideas on how states can find ways to impede and frustrate the federal government spying program, please, post them in the comments section below.
2) If you live in Montana, contact your legislator and discuss ways to expand this law towards the Feds.
3) If you don’t live in Montana, contact your legislator to pass a similar bill and even encourage one protecting your fellow state citizens from the Feds as well.
4)Share this article with others to increase the discussion on what can be done.
5)Return to the comments section and see what ideas are generated and share.