The Maryland bill would almost certainly have the largest impact of any of the proposed state bans, some of which were introduced in states with either nonexistent or minimal known on-the-ground agency presence.
“Maryland has almost become a political subdivision of the NSA,” Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin said in a statement. “The agency relies heavily on state and local help. This bill bans all of it."
As of late 2012, around 30,000 people worked for the NSA, many of them at Fort Meade. The state bills do not refer to the NSA by name, but rather “any federal agency” that seizes metadata without an individualized warrant.
The proposed state NSA bills are a reaction to the slow pace of proposed reform at the federal level following the June 2013 disclosures about mass domestic surveillance by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Three pending federal lawsuits seek to end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., plans to file a fourth. So far, judges have had mixed rulings. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon of Washington, D.C., handed legal activist Larry Klayman a preliminary win Dec. 16 after deciding the phone program is an “almost Orwellian” violation of the Fourth Amendment. U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley of New York disagreed, finding the program “lawful” on Dec. 27 and dismissing a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is appealing. Klayman is also suiting to halt the NSA’s PRISM Internet program.
President Barack Obama announced Jan. 17 he plans to discontinue the NSA’s in-house retention of phone metadata, but expressed an interest in either phone companies or a new third-party retaining the information. Phone companies are reportedly uninterested in doing so and it’s unclear what reforms, if any, will be implemented.
Critics say the NSA phone record dragnet has been demonstrably worthless at preventing terror attacks against the U.S. and should be terminated in its entirety.