[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Thursday night signed [press release] into law the California Electronic Communications Act (CECA) [text], a law that many are touting as a substantial step forward for digital privacy and protecting users’ rights. The law, which was approved alongside more than ten other bills, bars any state’s law enforcement agency or other investigative entity from requesting sensitive metadata from persons or businesses without a warrant. The electronic information includes personal data such as emails, text messages and cloud documents and files. The law also orders that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to search or track mobile devices such as cell phones. Many experts have lauded the CECA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation [official website] stated [press release], “After months of pressure from public interest groups, media organizations, privacy advocates, tech companies, and thousands of members of the public, California’s elected leaders have updated the state’s privacy laws so that they are in line with how people actually use technology today.” Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director at the ACLU of California, similarly stated [press release], “This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians…We hope this is a model for the rest of the nation in protecting our digital privacy rights.”
Online privacy has become a matter of increasing concern around the world in recent years amidst the Snowden controversy. Earlier this month the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled [JURIST report] that EU user data transferred to the US by various technology companies is not sufficiently protected. In June the Belgian Privacy Commission sued Facebook for alleged violations [JURIST report] of Belgian and European privacy laws. In March 92 non-governmental organizations from around the world issued a statement [JURIST report] calling on the UN Human Rights Council to institute a Special Rapporteur on Privacy. Also in June the District Court of The Hague struck down [JURIST report] a Dutch data retention law, holding that it violates privacy rights of EU citizens. In July 2014 former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] over the widespread lack of transparency in governmental digital surveillance practices.