New California Laws 2016

Hundreds of new California laws took effect on Jan. 1. Capital Public Radio looked at the tangible impacts of these laws on the lives of Californians.

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New California Law Protects Digital Privacy

Johan Larsson / Flickr

Johan Larsson / Flickr

This story is part of our series on new California laws that take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

A new electronic privacy law in California will require police agencies to get a warrant for your digital records, including emails and texts. 

The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act requires a warrant for all digital records: personal emails, texts, photos and a users’ physical location. 

"What this does is creates a very clear process for the government to get your private data. Whether that's off a cell phone or from your online service provider," says Dave Maass, an investigative researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which supported the bill in the California State Legislature. 

He says the law provides a balance between privacy and public safety. 

"This actually has a benefit for law enforcement because every single corporation was running with a different policy, but now it's very clear what the process is and so that makes it easier for law enforcement to do their jobs," says Maas. 

The law applies to devices and to all the tech corporations that store your data, from Apple to Twitter. 

"But it also covers things like StingRays or IMCI captures, and these are devices that police use to track people by their cell phones, but in the process they collect information on hundreds, thousands of innocent people just to track one phone," says Maas. 

There are exceptions to the warrant requirement: When an emergency involves danger of death or serious physical injury to any person. 

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