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Bill would make police get search warrants for email

April 01, 2013|By Marc Lifsher

SACRAMENTO -- A San Francisco lawmaker wants to protect your emails from random scrutiny by law enforcement. State Sen. Mark Leno has introduced legislation to require courts to issue search warrants before companies such as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook turn them over.

“No law enforcement agency could obtain someone’s mail or letters that were delivered to their home without first securing a search warrant, but that same protection is surprisingly not extended to our digital life,” said the San Francisco Democrat. He acted at the request of privacy advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation of San Francisco.

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 “The law hasn’t kept up with changes in technology,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a foundation staff attorney. Fakhoury said he expects the measure to win support from major email providers. 

Leno had no luck last year with another bill requiring search warrants for cellphone GPS information, which was opposed by the California District Attorneys Assn. and was vetoed by the governor.

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