California Assembly Passes Electronic Privacy Act

In a storm of Californian legislation, the Electronic Privacy Act is looking to balance people’s privacy and law enforcement’s ability to solve crimes. It now returns to the state Senate for concurrence.

by Sean Sposito, San Francisco Chronicle / September 11, 2015

(TNS) -- A bill touted by supporters as a victory over warrantless government access to private communications worked its way through the Legislature this week.

The California Electronic Privacy Act — meant to safeguard emails, text messages and location data stored on smartphones and other devices — made it through the Assembly and now returns to the state Senate for concurrence before heading to the governor for final approval, according to a press release from the ACLU of Northern California.

“While technology has advanced exponentially, California’s communications laws are stuck in the Dark Ages, leaving our personal emails, text messages, photos and smartphones increasingly vulnerable to warrantless searches,” state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, an author of the bill, said in the release.

He said the legislation is meant to strike a balance between people’s privacy and law enforcement’s ability to solve crimes.

To that end, while the act does require police to get a warrant before accessing a person’s electronically stored information, there are exceptions in the event of “emergencies and other public safety needs,” the release said.

The bill was co-authored by Leno and Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine (San Diego County).

©2015 the San Francisco Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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