Oct 15 2015

California Requires Law Enforcement Agencies to Obtain a Warrant Before Accessing Digital Information

A new act protects Californians’ data and civil liberties.

Officials in California have decided that it’s time for the state to modernize its digital-privacy laws. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, requires law enforcement agencies to get a warrant prior to inspecting digital records.

The act covers both electronic communication information and electronic device information, The National Law Review reports:

Electronic communication information means “any information about an electronic communication or the use of an electronic communication service including … any information pertaining to any individual or device participating in the communication.”

Electronic device information means “any information stored on or generated through the operation of an electronic device, including the current and prior locations of the device.”

The decision to adopt CalECPA was unsurprisingly popular. Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco — who wrote the bill along with Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) — believes it will finally bring the state’s digital policies up to date.

“For too long, California’s digital privacy laws have been stuck in the Dark Ages, leaving our personal emails, text messages, photos and smartphones increasingly vulnerable to warrantless searches,” Leno said, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Aside from updating the state’s digital policies and preserving the rights of California’s citizens, CalECPA aids law enforcement personnel.

“The bill also ensures that law enforcement officials have the tools they need to continue to fight crime in the digital age,” Leno adds.