The World Still Looks to California: The CalECPA as a Model Step for Privacy Reform in the Digital Age
The Journal of Law and Technology at Texas, August 2017
43 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018
Date Written: December 18, 2016
Fourth Amendment protections have always lagged behind technology. Traditional frameworks for Fourth Amendment analysis were developed before the advent and ubiquity of the Internet and electronic communication. The law was not designed to cover the ever-increasing range of human activities that occur in intangible mediums. Consequently, personal electronic data is vulnerable to surveillance and seizure by law enforcement on a mass scale, which courts have been both unwilling and unable to recognize. In response to this lacuna in Fourth Amendment coverage, California passed S.B. 178, also know as the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“CalECPA”), which was designed to strengthen privacy protections and to prevent warrantless law enforcement access to data.
This Paper examines and critiques the provisions of the CalECPA and this bill's ability to adapt Fourth Amendment protections into the modern technological environment. Though it does not solve all of the problems associated with the execution of searches in a digital medium, the CalECPA is a model piece of legislation that other states may wish to follow and improve upon.
Keywords: CalECPA, Warrant, Policing, Privacy, California, Surveillance, Fourth Amendment, 4A, technology, data, metadata, Snowden
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