LANSING, Mich (AP) – Electronic data and communications would be protected from unreasonable search and seizure under a proposed constitutional amendment approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday.
The measure, which was unanimously adopted, still needs to secure at least two-thirds of the votes in the House before it can be voted on in November.
Senate Joint Resolution G recognizes electronic data and communications as private property, under the same protection as “person, houses, papers and property” protected in the state constitution and the fourth amendment.
It’s time for the law to protect personal privacy now that smartphones and other technologies are an integral part of everyday life, said sponsor Sen Jim Runestad, a White Lake Republican.
“The failure of our laws to address this new reality is not just a threat to our freedoms today. It is a threat to the future freedoms of future generations, “said Runestad. “The fourth amendment still matters. We don’t know what the next technological advance will be, but one thing is certain, after 246 years of Americans, our right to privacy is still important. “
Michigan is not the first state to attempt to pass a law for a reasonable reason and a warrant to obtain electronic data. Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and more have also tried.
While the U.S. Supreme Court claims that law enforcement should have a reasonable reason to obtain an order to search emails and seized cell phones during an arrest, that’s not enough, Runestad said during his commission testimony in October .
He mentioned the possibility for outside companies to transfer data such as location and health app information to law enforcement officers, bypassing the procedure to obtain an order.
“Americans should not be forced to choose between using new technologies and protecting their privacy from authority,” said Runestad. The measure, he said, “will bring more clarity to the law.”
Anna Liz Nichols is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national non-profit service program that posts journalists in local editorial offices to report on undercover issues. ”
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