Texas has become the first US state to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant when accessing peoples’ emails. Governor Rick Perry signed the bill June 14, 2013 and the bill went in to effect immediately. The State of Texas is now the safest U.S. state regarding personal conversations.

In addition to making all private email access subject to warrant request, this law would pertain to detailed cell-phone location data. This is another important law in modernizing online privacy laws.

Many other states are working on similar laws and privacy advocates are hoping that this will pressure the U.S. Congress to amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which currently requires a warrant only for unopened email. Emails left unopened for more than 180 days and opened messages do not require federal law enforcement to get a warrant.

HB 2268 would keep Texas law enforcement in charge of Texas prosecutions. By allowing Texas judges and law enforcement to issue and execute warrants for certain electronic information held in other states, Texas will be able to expedite the investigation of crimes and give prosecutors  the necessary tools to prosecute these crimes. The Bill eases the burden of other state courts and simplifies the process for the entities receiving these warrants.

Since the Internet is a primary venue for many illegal traffickers and the bulk of criminal activity and evidence takes place on the Internet, much information is held by companies in another state. This bill will streamline search warrants, allowing Texas to move quickly on their cases.

This bill also allows reciprocity to the judges and law enforcement in other states who are encountering the same problems. This reciprocity will be narrowly granted to apply only to warrants equivalent to those defined under the bill.

For the complete text of HB2268 please go to this site: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/actions.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB2268

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