Police Can Invade Your Email; Gov. Brown Vetoes Privacy Bill

Police Can Invade Your Email; Gov. Brown Vetoes Privacy Bill
R.E. Photography / LA Weekly Flickr pool

Of all the bills California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed over the weekend, this one surprised us the most.

See also: Cops Look At Your Email Without Permission Or A Warrant!?

Sen. Mark Leno's SB 467 would have required law enforcement officers to obtain a search warrant before taking a peak at your cloud-based email. Wait, you ask, cops can look at my email without a warrant?

Indeed. And we thought the liberal Brown would have been against it all the way:

SB 467 was endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation which, in a letter to the governor, encouraged Brown to sign it:

The current law that governs access to electronic communications stored by online service providers was enacted long before the advent of the World Wide Web as we know it, let alone smartphones and e-mail inboxes with infinite storage capacity. As a result, current law provides inadequate privacy protection. Most problematic is the fact current law allows government officials to obtain the contents of electronic communications without a search warrant once a message has been stored online for more than 180 days.

Leno's law, according to his office, would have required ...

... state law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before asking service providers to hand over a private person's electronic communications, including email and Facebook and Twitter messages. It provides the same reasonable privacy protections for an email in the Cloud as a letter in a person's home.

Interestingly, in his veto message, Brown ignored the 180-day loophole, saying this:

Federal law currently requires a search warrant, subpoena or court order to access this kind of information and in the vast majority of cases, law enforcement agencies obtain a search warrant.

The bill, however, imposes new notice requirements that go beyond those required by federal law and could impede ongoing criminal investigations. I do not think that is wise.

Leno said he was bummed by the gov's decision:

I am deeply disappointed by many of the vetoes, but pledge to continue to work with our stakeholders and the Governor on these important issues.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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