This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
California state agencies and officials, as well as corporations providing services to the state, would be prohibited from supporting or assisting the federal government's collection of certain data on Californians, under a bipartisan bill introduced Monday by two state lawmakers.
"The National Security Agency's massive level of spying and indiscriminate collecting of phone and electronic data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a direct threat to our liberty and freedom," state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said in a news release.
Lieu co-authored SB828 with state Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego. "I support this bill because I support the Constitution, our Fourth Amendment rights and our freedoms to live in the United States of America," Anderson said in the release.
A federal judge ruled last month that the National Security Agency's blanket collection of phone records is unconstitutional, calling the dragnet "near Orwellian," the lawmakers noted. "I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place. That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government," Lieu said.
"All 317 million Americans cannot reasonably be considered to be suspicious simply for making or receiving telephone calls," he said. "The NSA's blanket seizure of the telephone records of all Americans is therefore an 'unreasonable seizure' by any definition of the term under the Fourth Amendment."
The lawmakers said the NSA sometimes relies upon services provided by the state, or upon private entities that provide services on behalf of the state. State Bill 828 would ban state agencies, officials and corporations providing services to the state from giving any material support, participation or assistance to any federal agency to collect electronic or metadata of any person, unless there has been a warrant issued that specifically describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.
The state Senate last year voted 32-1 to pass Lieu's resolution urging Congress to vote to stop the NSA's unconstitutional practices.
Those who collect data with automatic license-plate readers would be prohibited from selling or sharing it except among law enforcement agencies, under a bill introduced Friday by a Bay Area legislator.
"Automatic license plate reader technology is a useful tool for law enforcement," state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. "But use of this technology must be balanced with personal privacy."
Used mainly by law enforcement agencies, automatic license plate reader technology uses high-speed cameras -- often mounted on police cars, but sometimes mounted at fixed points as well -- along with software and criminal databases to rapidly check and track the license plates of millions of Californians. It's also often used by private, non-law enforcement entities, such as parking and repossession companies.
But as use of this technology has increased, so has the concern of civil libertarians; current law doesn't require license plate reader operators to keep the data private.
Under SB893, data that's less than five years old could be sold or provided only to law enforcement; data that's more than five years old would be available to law enforcement only with a court order. Violators would be subject to civil lawsuits, with anyone affected by a privacy breach entitled to recover damages including costs and attorney's fees.
Hill notes license-plate readers are an important law-enforcement tool: The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, in its first 30 days of using the technology, identified and located 495 stolen vehicles, five carjacked vehicles, and 19 other vehicles that were involved in felonies. These identifications led to 45 arrests, including some people suspected of bank robbery and home invasion.
"Law enforcement will still be able to continue to use LPR technology to catch criminals," Hill said. "But Californians will have peace of mind that their personal information is safeguarded."