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New law in Texas requires warrants to search e-mails

Gov. Rick PerryIf the recent revelation of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program has left you outraged and questioning how much privacy you really have when checking your inbox, you may want to move to Texas.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) signed HB2268 into law June 14, preventing all state and local law enforcement from rummaging through Texans’ email inboxes without a warrant.

The ground-breaking legislation gives Texas residents more privacy over their e-mails than anywhere else  in the U.S.

Pushback against law enforcement snooping came after 29-year-old state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-92), who represents an area between Dallas and Ft. Worth, added an amendment to the Texas House bill barring authorities from unwarranted email searches.

“Because of the overwhelming support the bill received in the House and Senate it is effective immediately. Before this landmark legislation, state and local officials had the ability to read your emails without a warrant if the email had been opened or had sat unopened in your inbox for longer than 180 days. That just didn’t make sense,” Stickland told Russia Today.

Under the Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), however, the lax requirements Stickland outlined still stand under federal law.

That means Texans will not be protected from the overreaching federal government if government officials decided they want to go through their emails — without a warrant — as long as they had been opened or sat in their inbox for more the 180 days. Nevertheless, the legislation is a good start and could set a precedence for other states to follow suit.

Montana legislators have also been blazing the trail to more Internet privacy. State lawmakers today saw a bill signed into law requiring law enforcement to acquire a warrant before tracking an individual’s location based on their cellphone, social media and/or GPS devices.


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