Texas is now the first state to require a warrant for all email surveillance and data collection. Governor Rick Perry signed the new privacy bill into law on June 14, which took effect immediately. Texans now enjoy more electronic privacy for their inboxes than any other state.
The bill, HB 2268, enacts a law shielding Texas residents from state and local law enforcement snooping without a warrant. The email privacy portion of the bill was authored by 29-year-old freshman Republican legislator Jonathan Stickland, who represents an area between Dallas and Fort Worth.
Under current federal law, law enforcement agencies are only required to have a warrant to access communications that haven’t yet been opened by the recipient. Once the email is opened, or if it has sat in an inbox for 180 days, it is fair game.
Texas’s Star Telegram reports that the amendment sets a national precedent for email privacy. Let’s hope that this is true and other states follow suit. In March 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice recognized that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was out of date. These are all signs that the conversation is headed in the right direction.
The Star Telegram praised Stickland for his contribution to the bill, and suggested that he is fighting for ideals that all Americans can get behind. “Despite the many differences between Tea Party Republicans like Stickland and the most liberal weenies you might find in Austin, there also tend to be some similarities,” reports the Telegram.