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Warrants To Be Required To Search Electronic Communications


After failing three times in previous years, civil liberties advocates have won Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on legislation to protect Californians’ electronic communications from being searched without a warrant.

“Up until now, we have been literally in the digital dark ages, living by 20th century laws,” says state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who authored the three bills that Brown vetoed as well as this year’s successful measure.

The new law covers text messages, emails, smart phones and geolocation information.

“Law enforcement will need to have a court determine there is probable cause that you’re committing a crime before they can read all your personal communications,” Leno says. 

Law enforcement groups had opposed similar measures in the past but they and Leno negotiated language this year that allowed them to remain neutral.

The measure takes effect in January.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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