Alaska Fights Against the Patriot Act

Oakland Strives for Privacy
April 6, 2015
Elsa Lakew
Elsa Lakew – April 2015
April 8, 2015

September 11, 2001 changed a lot of things for the United States, very few of them were good. The implementation of invasive legislation like the Patriot Act of 2001 mass controversy and outrage among the general public and government officials. The government’s power to spy on average Americans is an active transgression against the Bill of Rights.  Amendment IV of the Constitution, explicitly states that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizure, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

The Patriot Act counters this statement by declaring in Title II, that US government agencies have the power to collect information from US citizens through wiretaps. These two laws counteract one another. However, it must be taken into account that we live in a Republic whose laws are based upon an active constitution. The Patriot Act violates this constitution in all manners and yet, nothing has actively been done within the American government to fully denounce this Act.

Even though this Act has not been brought to the Supreme Court for review of legality, many states have made it their mission to combat the negative effects of this doctrine. For example, the Alaskan Senate has recently implemented a bill that formally condemns NSA spying and pledges that it will not assist in any programs or enterprises that uphold undemocratic values. Introduced on January 21, 2015, the Alaska Senate Bill 13 prohibits “the states and municipalities from using assets to assist a federal agency in collecting certain telephone records or electronic data without warrant; prohibiting the state from cooperating with a federal agency in collecting certain telephone records or electronic data without warrant”.

Recent updates to the 2013 Bill have made the Dept. of Law much happier. For instance, the phrase federal agency” has been replaced by “federal data collection and surveillance agency”.” The bill defines this as a federal agency that is involved in the routine surveillance or involuntary collection of storage of bulk telephone or email records or related metadata covering any citizen of the United States and that clams the legal authority to collect and store bulk telephone and email records or metadata of any citizen.

This Alaskan bill is a blatant show of resilience and effort by state legislators to fight for and with the people. Sen. Frank Church warned us 40 years ago and Congress has done nothing. Therefore it is up to us to act. This bill simply builds on a law passed in 2013 with amended language that should appease law enforcement (it hasn’t).

Show support for this Bill in any way you can. Write to your Senators and House Members and explain why you believe they should too introduce a bill such as this. A democracy does not work unless we work together to build the nation we wish to see.