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Texas Set To Approve E-Privacy Protections Stronger Than Federal Law

May 29, 2013 by  

A bill awaiting Texas Governor Rick Perry’s signature would put the Lone Star State ahead of Congress in protecting the privacy of citizens whose emails, thanks to an existing legal loophole, are currently subject to warrantless seizure.

The law, already approved by both chambers of the State Legislature, follows reforms recommended to Congress by privacy advocates with ties to technological industries. If approved by Perry, it would close a loophole that currently allows law enforcement to seize unopened emails 180 days old (or older), as well as all opened emails, simply by acquiring an administrative subpoena. Instead, investigators would be forced to obtain a search warrant before snooping through any private emails.

Congress is currently considering similar reforms to the 27-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), but has not yet approved an amended version that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee in late April.

Still missing from the final version of the Texas law is a recommended requirement that police obtain a search warrant before tracking residents’ locations through their cellphones’ geolocation data.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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