Osgerby: Iowa’s important attempts to block the NSA


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Last week, Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, filed the Iowa Fourth Amendment Protection Act, that could effectively protect Iowans from warrantless federal spying, namely by the National Security Agency. Furthermore, the bill could help in shutting off water for the NSA’s facility in Utah.

Iowa is the eighth state to introduce such security measures against federal surveillance.

The protection would withhold state-level support, both actively and passively, toward such federal agencies. Iowa would then not enable for collection of electronic data and metadata by the NSA while also not providing any material support.

Edward Snowden revealed the degree to which the NSA was monitoring and collecting data on millions of Americans, representing surveillance on a disproportionate amount to our populace (most of whom do not pose a risk to national security) outlined in the Patriot Act. It is unlawful intrusion of our lives and well-being.

Just last week, the Obama administration announced some modest changes to the NSA’s data-collection practices, but they seem to be too little, too late. The agency will no longer be allowed to monitor foreign leaders’ communications with impunity; it will now be subject to a regular investigation of the practice. In addition, the NSA will be limited in how long it can request information along with a gag order from private companies, a revelation that sparked outrage from privacy advocates when first brought to light.

The surveillance issue was something many people had kept in the backs of their minds, but the extent of overreach made public left the general population unsettled. Not to mention, it must feel rather invasive when Snowden revealed that NSA employees were stalking and keeping tabs on crushes through the surveillance.

Most people would probably rather not have some creepy computer scientist getting off on their metadata.

If the Patriot Act was meant to be preventive action against terrorism, I fail to see how housing numerous servers, spread across four states, dedicated to the collection of every American, is constitutionally passable. It is an infringement on more than just our Fourth Amendment rights. It breaches our basic freedoms granted by the Constitution.

By the way, those servers that the NSA utilizes in Utah require 1.7 million gallons of water daily to cool down. That hardly sounds like necessary procedures for counterterrorism.

For the state of Iowa to step forward, alongside others, in mitigating the powers of the NSA comes as a pleasant surprise. The federal agency has shown that it has no intention of reining in their surveillance.

By creating a sort of quasi-coalition, states such as Iowa and Utah are paving the way to effectively combat the overreach of the NSA. If these bills pass the legislatures, then the federal agency could be cut off from vital resources, such as water and other material support.

As Americans in a time in which federal institutions that were created for specific purposes from a bygone, Cold War era, state-level dissent against D.C. agencies seems like the best hope of restoring private freedoms for us.

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