Election 2014
1:57 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Voter Guide To Missouri Constitutional Amendment 9

A new ballot measure on the August 5 primary election could amend the Missouri constitution to protect data, like texts, from unreasonable search and seizure.
Credit Ken Banks / Flickr-CC

A measure on the Aug. 5 primary ballot in Missouri seeks to amend the state constitution to protect data and electronic communications from unreasonable search and seizure. 

Ballot language

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?

State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings.

What it means:

All data and digital communications would have to be treated the same as persons, papers, personal belongings and homes in a law enforcement search. This means in order to access electronic communication or other data, police would be required to have user consent or a warrant.

Pros:

Missouri Republican Rep. Paul Curtman is one of the chief supporters for Constitutional Amendment 9 in the House. He believes that the amendment is a good way to protect citizens from surveillance and the monetization of private information.

"This is important for the average citizen in Missouri," Curtman said. "You should be able to have some confidence that the constitution of the state of Missouri, and our Bill of Rights, is going to protect your private communications and data from being sent, disclosed or otherwise sold to some other third party."

Cons:

The Kansas City Star editorial board recommended that Missourians vote "no" on Amendment 9. Their reasoning is that the amendment is "vaguely worded" and hasn't been fully discussed. 

"Even the lawmakers who voted to place the questions on the ballot disagree on what they actually say or do," the Star wrote. "About the only thing that's certain is that the questions are almost certain to drag the state into costly future court battles."

The Star editorial board says they are worried that the amendment will bog down both local and federal law enforcement with unnecessary caution.

What it means for Kansas City:

If passed, the amendment could have a range of consequences for Kansas City residents. If the amendment language is interpreted to be far reaching, like proponents want, it could mean that police officers have to obtain warrants for any data or electronic communication that is outside of probable cause or plain view. 

It would also keep information such as conceal and carry licenses from being sent to the federal government or other third parties.