Senate approves measure to protect electronic data from unreasonable search and seizure

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square June 12, 2020

(The Center Square) – The Michigan Senate unanimously approved a measure that aims to require a warrant for search and seizure of electronic documents.

The federal and state Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure of people’s “houses, papers, and effects” without a warrant, but Senate Joint Resolution G clarifies that electronic data and communication fall under those protected items.

Sponsor Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, said the resolution aimed to update privacy protections to modern standards.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to choose between using new technologies and protecting their privacy,” Runestad said in a statement. “It is long past time that our state extends the same basic protections to our electronic data that have existed for our paper data for centuries.”

Missouri voters approved a similar amendment in 2014 with a 75 percent vote, while New Hampshire passed it with 81 percent voter approval.

“In 2020 privacy still matters,” Runestad said in a floor speech. “The Fourth Amendment still matters. We don’t know what technological advances will come next, but one thing is for sure – that after 246 years to us Americans, our right to privacy still matters.”

The question will be placed on the November 2020 general election ballot if two-thirds of the House supports it.

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