California Governor Signs Law for Electronic Search Warrants

California Governor Jerry Brown rebooted his thoughts on protecting personal data that is digital for searches from law enforcement.

After similar proposals had been rejected a number of times by Brown in the past, on Thursday the Governor signed sweeping Senate Bill 178 into law.

The measure requires agencies in law enforcement to obtain search warrants prior to accessing the electronic devices of someone, or requesting private communications stored on the same, such as text messages, e-mail and data on geo-location.

Senator Mark Leno from San Francisco, who is the author of the bill, said how could a letter inside your mailbox have more protection than your email in the cloud. Leno added that it just did not make any sense.

Supported by the tech industry, the new law, was given bipartisan support on its way up to be signed by the Governor, though it hit trouble inside the Assembly after certain lawmakers raised concerns late in the process about the effect it would have on investigations of child pornography.

The measure includes some exemptions for instances such as loss of life or for evidence that is imminent, which Leno expressed helped to removed opposition from law enforcement that stifled previous attempts of passing the legislation.

Brown had vetoed Bill 573 for the Assembly, which was a proposal to provide legal aid, and financial relief for thousands of students who were affected by the closing this past spring of Corinthian Colleges a for-profit chain.

Brown, in his message, expressed his reservations about cost associated with that bill, which offered tuition recovery and assistance for students seeking forgiveness of loans, waived fees for the students who were transferring to a community college and restore financial aid eligibility at Cal Grant.

Brown wrote that while the bill was well intentioned, he was not comfortable creating a new cost in the General Fund outside of the budget, particularly given the augmentations already in the budget for this year for Cal Grant.

 

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