Voters Concerned About Digital Privacy, Want to Increase Protections from Warrantless Searches


Sacramento, CA – By overwhelming majorities, California voters are concerned about their digital privacy and support efforts to increase protections included in the California Electronic Privacy Act (CalECPA, SB 178), a statewide poll released today has found.

CalECPA, which will likely be voted on September 9th by the California Assembly, requires law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing individuals’ electronic information and includes thoughtful exceptions for law enforcement to use in the event of emergencies and other public safety needs.

The major findings of the poll include:

  • When it comes to accessing e-mail and internet activity, 82 percent of voters support requiring a warrant prior to authorities gaining access.
  • Similarly, nearly 79 percent support a warrant requirement for tracking cell phones and what you do on it and 77 percent for accessing text messaging records.

The polling demonstrates strong support among likely voters in the state and comes as leading technology companies see a rise in requests from law enforcement for consumer data.

Google has seen a 250 percent jump in government demands for consumer data in just the past five years. Last year, AT&T received 64,000 demands – a 70 percent increase in just a single year. Verizon reports that only 1/3 of its requests had a warrant, and Twitter and Tumblr received more demands from California than any other state.

“Now is the time for Governor Brown to sign CalECPA into law and update California’s privacy laws for the modern digital age,” said Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director at the ACLU of California, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Californians want police to get a warrant before accessing our private emails, text messages, and tracking our cell phones. They want to see a change that makes sure their privacy is properly protected.”

CalECPA is co-authored by Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and supported by top tech companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Dropbox, as well as the Internet Association. The bill is also supported by national and statewide civil liberties, civil rights, and consumer organizations, including the Asian Americans Advancing Justice, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Center for Media Justice, Centro Legal de la Raza, Color of Change, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Internet Archive, Media Alliance, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Restore the 4th, Techfreedom, The Utility Reform Network, and World Privacy Forum.

Read more about the poll.

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