Dewhurst Looks to Beat Back NSA Snooping and Big Data With Privacy Protection Agenda

Categories: Legislature

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Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst unveiled his interim charges to the Senate Committee on State Affairs Friday, and they are, to say the least, pretty ambitious. They read like red meat for the paranoid-hacker constituency at times, but they also include the bones of some common-sense privacy protections.

And they may appeal to a broader electorate, which is probably why Dewhurst is staking out a position as bulwark against Big Brother. He's offered up a slate of nascent policy prescriptions for the legislature to study during the off-season. We'll see how much our growing institutional distrust moves the needle next year.

Although I'm sure this is something the committee will explore, it isn't exactly clear how the state legislature intends to place limits on the federal government's warrantless search and seizure of data from wireless providers and electronic devices, approved by a super-secret FISA court. It's heartening to see his interest in tackling the perhaps even more pervasive monitoring engaged in by the commercial sector.

"Ongoing revelations of the NSA's domestic spying and increasingly frequent news of online security breaches appropriately have Texans on edge," Dewhurst said during a recent press briefing. "Our essential American freedoms include the right to live without warrantless searches of our private information or snooping on essential rights like gun ownership. As we have done throughout our history, Texas must lead the way in defending individual freedom."

Dewhurst wants the committee to examine whether purchase-pattern tracking of gun owners should be prohibited, and to look shield our once anonymous data from being repackaged, reidentified and sold. He also outlines some potential transparency reforms to allow Texans to see what data is being collected, and by whom.

You can read about it here, wherein you will find substantive policy issues that have nothing -- near as I can tell -- to do with abortion, Obamacare or the War on Christmas.

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19 comments
gritsforbreakfast1
gritsforbreakfast1

"it isn't exactly clear how the state legislature intends to place limits on the federal government's warrantless search and seizure of data from wireless providers and electronic devices, approved by a super-secret FISA court."

Most criminal prosecutions are in state courts, not federal, and Texas' electronic privacy laws explicitly incorporate Texas' standards. See Bryan Hughes' HB 1608 from last session for an example of what that might look like.

rusknative
rusknative

Dewhurst is plenty smart...but his appearances in his own TV ads make him look like a candidate to play Forest Gump in a redo of the movie.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Will wait to see what comes of this before deciding if I like it or not.  After all, marching into ovens seems preferable, at first, to being shot in an icy ditch.

DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

So what if Dewy is pandering to privacy-advocates and independent-minded constituents? It's a lot better use of his time than drunkenly calling sheriffs, pulling strings to get distant relatives out of jail. NSA spying has to stop; these guys are out of control. Listening to our phone calls and tracking our internet history isn't enough for them. Their space arm just launched a demon octopus into the sky, the NROL-39. God knows what that thing does. And why can't they use their powers to track down missing kids? Guess spying on people looking at porn is more important.


Dewy is former CIA and is well acquainted with surveillance operations. The only way this thing changes is through legislation. Of course, nothing will pass because too too much government funding's at stake. But it's worth a shot.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

"snooping on essential rights like gun ownership"

going for the brass ring here, Dewhurst is able to combine privacy rights with second amendment rights. really, quite an acommplishment! apparently the 2nd Amendment not only protects one's right to own a firearm but it also prohibits anyone from learning anything about it!

ruddski
ruddski

Does this mean Texas progressives are going to sing the praises of the police state now?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Federal legislation might work, Texas legislation seems to be worthless.

monstruss
monstruss

Nope. Dewhurst is a drunk, but the NSA is worse.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

idk, depends on if the texas conservatives stop singing the praises of the police state first...

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

As the saying goes, even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut. Dewhurst is right here. Though I fear it ultimately doesn't matter. The NSA isn't going to stop. This sort of shit has been going on for decades, the Internet just added a new wrinkle. Just be glad the feds aren't kicking down our doors and arresting us.....yet.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ruddski Well, they pretty much have to, don't they?  Dewhurst is against it, and Obama is the head of the agencies doing it, so they are fundamentally required to not just abide the police state but to actively cheerlead for it.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

It's much cheaper and faster to wreck your life electronically.

ruddski
ruddski

lefties have no real prob with dictatorships, so acceptance if a police state seems true to form. Someone has to watch the tea party!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Well if you've got nothing to hide, what's the problem?


Wait, did I just say that? 

Well stuff my face and call me Rush.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @ruddski 

You know exactly what this means. Dew is another pandering pol that has finally figured out how remove that finger from his ass and stick it into the wind.

rusknative
rusknative

maybe if BOTH groups would stop "ACTING" and start responsible "DOING" maybe the nation would be MUCH better off.

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