Despite national protests, local acts of public dissent, federal legislative measures, and federal rulings declaring the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance programs and data collection programs unconstitutional–the agency continues to build storage facilities across the country. Undeterred, civil liberties groups around the country have banned together through the OffNow coalition and taken to deploying strategies that target the figural nuts and bolts of the massive surveillance apparatus of the US government—utility companies, local and state support—through legislation. On January 6, 2013 California legislators introduced a landmark bill that would prevent the NSA from accessing state resources. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a member of the OffNow coalition, recently wrote:
The bipartisan effort comes in response to the wave of public outcry following the leaked disclosures that the NSA has been engaged in domestic surveillance. Bill co-author Sen. Lieu remarked, “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.” SB828 is only the next in a series of bipartisan bills defending the Bill of Rights in the state. AB351, which was signed into law in October of 2013, took a similar stance of noncompliance with the portions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would permit the indefinite detention of California residents.
However, the state of Maryland is gearing up for it’s own fight. According to the Washington Post, in addition to already housing the headquarters of the NSA, Howard County MD has agreed to supply waste water to a new NSA data collection center scheduled to open in 2016. The Post quoted BORDC executive director, Shahid Buttar, saying,
“Maryland is one of the most crucial states in this national campaign… Because Congress has been so abysmally dysfunctional and inactive in the oversight arena for the last 10 years, the municipal checks and balances are really all that we the people have had an opportunity to exercise.”
With Maryland being home base for the NSA, it will require a critical mass effort for residents of the state including support from across the country to push state legislators bring the implement state measures to meaningfully strike at the panopticon. Maryland is a key organizing state for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in our efforts to dismantle the surveillance state. We are looking to connect with more grassroots initiatives; we’re available to support by emailing [email protected]