Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Montana became the first state in the nation to protect individuals’ digital location information in the 2013 legislature by requiring a search warrant in order to obtain such information.

In 2015, I introduced a bill that would protect the digital privacy of all electronic communications by requiring a warrant to request to that information from third party providers.

The bill passed the House, but unfortunately was tabled in a Senate committee. It was supported by a coalition of nearly 30 privacy groups and tech companies, including: Google, Facebook, The Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, the ACLU, and Demand Progress.

I was able to sponsor and pass this bill into law in 2017.

Bill highlights:

•Requires government to get a warrant in order to compel third party electronic communications providers (Google, Facebook, etc.) to turn over someone’s electronic communication (texts, voicemails, call logs, video conferencing, social media messages, etc.).
•Requires government to notify the individual that a warrant has been issued for their communications (this is important because it’s nearly impossible to know if your communications have been accessed otherwise).
•Allows for delayed notification for ongoing or sensitive investigations, with a judge’s approval.
•Allows for other judicially-recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement in the 4th Amendment.
•Allows for voluntary disclosure by the electronic communications provider (such as during active emergencies).

The text of the bill can be found here.

The full page about the bill can be found here.