Behold the Montana legislature, whose last prominent achievement allowed Montanans to eat their own roadkill. Overshadowed by that bill this past term was little old House Bill 603, a measure that requires the government to obtain a probable cause warrant before spying on you through your cell phone or laptop. HB 603 was signed into law this past Spring, effectively making Montana the first state to have an anti-spy law long before anyone heard of Edward Snowden. To be clear, HB 603 passed the state Senate overwhelmingly by a vote of 96-4 in April and was signed into law on May 6. That's almost one month to the day when we first found out about the NSA's secret order to collect phone records from Verizon, which has since ballooned into a world-wide scandal and chase. "The NSA reports hadn’t even come out at that time," said one of the law's supporters to thenews website The Daily Interlake.
That we didn't find out about the extensive NSA spying and Edward Snowden until June, is probably the reason HB 603 passed without much fanfare in the spring. At the time, the law might have seemed extraneous, or even paranoid. But knowing what we know now, the law seems prophetic (not unlike the way Shia LaBeouf warned us about spying back in 2008) and is getting some new-found attention. The law is pretty straightforward—the government can't spy on Montanans through their electronic devices unless they obtain a warrant.