Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Texas first state to require warrants for old email if bill survives veto period

Very nice story from Cyrus Farivar from Ars Technica about state Rep. Jon Stickland's email bill which was amended on to legislation currently headed to the governor. The article, titled "Unprecedented email privacy bill sent to Texas Governor's desk" (May 28), concluded thusly:
“Privacy is a special thing in Texas—it goes to the core values of Texas,” Chris Soghoian, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Ars.
“It's always good to see states passing pro-privacy legislation because it sends a signal to Congress. It sends a signal to conservative members who might not yet be on board that this is something being supported in their own states and it helps the courts to see that this is a safe space to venture into. When cities and states start protecting e-mail, then judges may feel like there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed.

“It is the first state legislature I'm aware of to change the law this way,” he also told Ars. “Other states are currently considering similar legislation, including California—where EFF sponsored SB 467 recently passed the Senate 33-1 and is now being considered in the Assembly.”

“It's significant as proof that privacy reform is not only needed, but also politically-feasible with broad bipartisan support. And hopefully that will impact federal ECPA reform efforts by getting people on both of sides of the political aisle to work together to make meaningful electronic privacy reform a reality. The more states that pass similar legislation, the more pressure it will put on Congress to keep up with the changing legal landscape.”
I couldn't be more proud of the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition, an alliance of state and local groups powered mostly by volunteers who brought Rep. Stickland the bill and helped promote it. And it should be mentioned that while Jon Stickland's reputation may be taking a beating among the capitol cognoscenti, this legislation was a significant achievement for a freshman. He was bold to file it and bolder still to amend it to a passing bill when the filed version got gummed up in the process. In my book he deserves a lot of credit for that.

MORE: From National Journal. AND MORE: From Popular Science.

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