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Texas first state to mandate warrants for email surveillance

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SHUTTERSTOCK Texas flag
SHUTTERSTOCK Texas flag

Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed a bill into law that mandates law enforcement get a warrant to access emails. The bill (HB 2268), addresses the outdated 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which allows law enforcement to obtain emails without a warrant if they are marked as "read" or if they are over 180 days old. In those situations, authorities only require a subpoena to gain access because they are considered abandoned. The bill signed into law today only covers Texans at the state and local levels from this dated understanding of digital communications, but it is said to be the first such law on the books in the US. Work is underway at the federal level, however, to modernize the ECPA: back in April a bipartisan Senate committee unanimously voted to bring the ECPA Amendments Act to the Senate floor for a vote.