With more than 38-million people and some of the largest technology companies in the world calling California home, the Golden State should be a leader in safeguarding electronic privacy. For years the state’s constitution has provided greater privacy protection than the Fourth Amendment. But when it comes to electronic privacy, the state has lagged behind, even as other states, such as Texas and Maine, have passed legislation to protect everything from the contents of email to the detailed location information generated by our phones.

Not anymore.

Today, EFF joins a broad coalition of groups to support the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), a comprehensive state bill that aims to update the California's electronic privacy statutes to reflect the realities of the 21st Century. While Congress is also currently considering an update to the statute that governs email privacy, CalECPA goes farther, specifically:

  • Requiring California law enforcement to get a search warrant based on a showing of probable cause in order to compel a search of a mobile device or compel a service provider to disclose electronic information, including emails, text messages, digital documents, sensitive metadata, and location information
  • Providing notice, reporting, and enforcement provisions that require transparency and oversight to ensure the law is followed
  • Containing appropriate exceptions to the warrant requirement to ensure police can continue to effectively and efficiently protect public safety

The bipartisan bill, jointly authored by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno and Republican Sen. Joel Anderson, is supported by a diverse group of companies and organizations, including:

  • Adobe
  • ACLU of California
  • Apple
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice
  • California Newspaper Publishers Association
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Media Justice
  • Centro Legal de la Raza
  • Color of Change
  • Consumer Action
  • Consumer Federation
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  • Dropbox
  • Engine
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Google
  • Internet Archive
  • LinkedIn
  • Media Alliance
  • Mozilla
  • NameCheap
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  • reddit
  • Restore the 4th
  • Techfreedom
  • The Utility Reform Network (TURN)
  • Twitter
  • World Privacy Forum

CalECPA follows the spirit of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Riley v. California, that found the quantity and quality of information on a cell phone required police obtain a warrant before they could search the data on an arrestee’s cell phone. The Court noted that technologies like cell phones are “not just another technological convenience” but instead hold “the privacies of life.” CalECPA is premised around the idea that modern communication technologies aren’t conveniences but necessities and as a result, law enforcement should only gain access to this wealth of personal information with a search warrant.

In an increasingly digital world, using technology to communicate shouldn’t mean users surrender their privacy rights. We hope the legislature will give CalECPA the serious consideration it deserves and ensure that California remains a leader when it comes to safeguarding digital privacy.