California State Senator introduces bill requiring warrants for email searches in the state

California State Senator introduces bill requiring warrants for email searches in the state

California may beat the United States as a whole to change email privacy laws to better protect individuals from government snooping. State Senator of California, Mark Leno, has introduced Senate Bill 467, a piece of legislation that would raise the legal requirements in place before the state’s government can dig through your digital missives.

There is movement to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a federal law, changing its tenets to require the government to acquire a warrant to view the email of citizens. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, among other members of Congress, are working on that front.

State Senator Leno, however, is working to move California ahead of the rest of the country. You won’t be surprised to learn that Leno’s district is mostly the City of San Francisco, a hub of technological innovation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with the ACLU of California have endorsed Senate Bill 467.

Current law, under ECPA, stipulates that email older than 180 days, or has been read, can be summoned by the government with merely a subpoena. Changing that requirement to a warrant, at either the state of national level, would greatly boost the protection that the average citizen would enjoy.

Most are unaware of how little rights they have to their current digital communication in regards to their privacy. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was enacted in 1986. It’s time for an update.

It is too early to tell of Leno’s California bill has enough momentum to pass, but if it does, it will create tidy precedent for the country as a whole.

Top Image Credit: Damian Gadal

Read next: The ITC rules in favor of Microsoft in patent infringement case by Motorola

Corona coverage

Read our daily coverage on how the tech industry is responding to the coronavirus and subscribe to our weekly newsletter Coronavirus in Context.

For tips and tricks on working remotely, check out our Growth Quarters articles here or follow us on Twitter.