An editorial from the Los Angeles News Group:
Senate Bill 467, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would require a government agency to obtain a search warrant before obtaining the contents of emails, Facebook or Twitter messages or the like that are stored with a third party, such as Google or Yahoo or in the cloud.
The agency would be required to notify the user within three days that his content had been obtained and to furnish the user with a copy of the warrant, unless the agency has requested and received a court order delaying the notification for cause.
Leno’s bill is opposed by a number of law enforcement associations — those of the state’s district attorneys, sheriffs and police chiefs, for example. Their objections to additional “burdens” on law enforcement are easily dismissed in the name of due process and Fourth Amendment protections. But another objection expressed by the California District Attorneys Association and the L.A. County DA’s Office has merit. Because the bill applies to all third-party storage providers, not just to those that serve the public, it could keep a county or other government employer from checking its own employees’ official email accounts to make sure they’re not being used for personal or other prohibited or illegal purposes.
That should be fixed. Then this bill should become law.
Read the full OpEd on Daily Bulletin.
Of course, states like Texas and California might not need such laws if Congress updated ECPA to walk back from Third Party Doctrine and to establish the right to privacy and Fourth Amendment protections of information we share with providers.