“Law enforcement authorities in California will have to get a warrant from a judge most of the time to compel phone and Internet companies to turn over digital customer information,” reports The Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
“Gov. Jerry Brown signed the so-called California Electronic Communications Privacy Act…after the legislation passed both houses by wide margins. With limited exceptions, the legislation requires a probable-cause warrant to access emails, online documents, text messages, location data and even metadata such as call logs as the ‘to’ and ‘from’ information of an email… It’s not required, for example, in emergencies when accessing the data could prevent loss of life or physical injury.”
“California’ adopted the law as Congress considers making changes to the nation’s digital privacy law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act… It requires the government to obtain a judge-approved warrant to access emails or text messages less than 180 days old. But it doesn’t impose that requirement on communications older than 180 days. Google and other technology companies have refused to turn over older emails without a search warrant, following a federal appeals court ruling that declared the 180-day rule unconstitutional.”
The National Law Review breaks down what exactly CalECPA does.
“CalECPA generally requires a warrant before any business turns over any individual’s electronic information. Specifically, CalECPA prohibits any government entity that does not have a valid warrant or court order: Compelling an electronic communication service provider to produce or access electronic communication information; Compelling any person or entity other than the authorized possessor of the device to produce or access electronic device information; or Accessing electronic device information by physical interaction or electronic communication with the electronic device.”
Wired calls the California law “the nation’s best digital privacy law” and points out that the “bill enjoyed widespread support among civil libertarians like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Twitter, which have headquarters in California.”