On August 5th, Missouri voters have a chance to modernize their state Constitution by adding provisions that specifically protect electronic data and communications from warrantless spying, giving them the same constitutional position as “persons, houses, papers and effects.”
If passed by the voters, Amendment 9 would change the Missouri state constitution to read (with the new additions in bold):
That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.
Critics may contend that this measure is largely inconsequential because it has no effect at the national level where the majority of the constitutional violations take place. However, this line of thinking is inaccurate. Because of the vastness of the NSA’s operation, it relies on state and local entities to gather information on its behalf far more than they want the public to realize. The passage of Amendment 9 would represent the first domino falling in a process that could ultimately lead to the complete dismantling of the surveillance state!
Amendment 9 is particularly important because it would cause the state of Missouri to no longer be able to participate in any data-sharing programs that the feds rely upon.
Through what is known as the Information Sharing Environment (ISE), state and local governments are brought into an incestuous network of rampant unconstitutionality fostered by the NSA. Under the guise of terrorism prevention, information flies loosely between the feds, state governments, local government, fusion centers and private entities. Illegally-gathered information is then used in criminal proceedings to fill the already overcrowded jails even more quickly. This amendment is the first step to driving a stake through the heart of that network in Missouri.
While Amendment 9 will not cause Big Brother to shut its doors immediately, it is the beginning of a process that could very well lead to just that outcome. It is another piece of the puzzle falling into place. It allows civil liberties activists to create a mandate for reform that can lead to more states enacting these types of ballot initiatives which can ultimately lead to our comprehensive 4th Amendment Protection Act being introduced and passed in legislatures across the country.
History has shown that powerful, secret surveillance tools will almost certainly be abused for political ends. States have a chance to act, and bring this system to an end.
Missouri voters will have the chance on August 5th to take the first step toward that laudable goal.