Calif. bill requires search warrants on electronic data

By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday that will require police in California to obtain a warrant from a judge before searching any electronic communications, including emails, text messages, GPS data and other location information.

Brown’s approval of SB178 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year that required officers to get a warrant before searching the contents of cell phones seized from people they arrest.

The new bill, effective in January, goes further by requiring warrants to obtain individuals’ electronic data from online hosts like Google and also covers cell-phone tracking information and data stored on other digital devices such as laptops.

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