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Texas is the first state to ban email snooping without a warrant. The new privacy bill—HB 2268—was signed by Governor Rick Perry and immediately went into effect on June 14th. The law protects Texas residents from local and state-law enforcement surveillance that’s carried out without a warrant.
A portion of the bill that concerns privacy was written by Jonathan Stickland, a 29-year old freshman-Republican legislator representing an area between Dallas and Fort Worth. Stickland told the Star-Telegram that he’s trying to fight for the ideals that all U.S. citizens should have. The Star-Telegram commented on his effort saying:
“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.”
The newspaper also reported that one of the similarities is that both the liberals and Tea Partiers tend to be in favor of government transparency; however, many are still arguing about what government transparency actually is.
According to Ars Technica’s Cyrus Farivar, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant if they want to access an email that hasn’t been opened by the recipient. If the email was opened, or left unopened in an inbox for 180 days, it can be accessed without a warrant. In March, the department of Justice said that maintaining separate legal standards for aged email is an outdated notion, but it supports the revisions to the ECPA.
While the Lone-Star State has an increased level of privacy, residents of the other 49 U.S. states will have to wait patiently and hope for revisions to be made to the ECPA.