Albany, NY – In the wake of two recent Supreme Court Decisions, United States v. Jones (2012) and Riley v. California (2014), where the Court unanimously upheld Fourth Amendment privacy rights against warrantless government surveillance, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has introduced a bill requiring law enforcement officials to obtain a court-ordered warrant before physically or electronically accessing information generated by, or stored in, electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, or tablets (A. 9235).
“In today’s Digital Age New Yorkers should not have to choose between using new technology and maintaining their Constitutional rights to privacy,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “There is absolutely no reason that electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops, should be treated any differently than a citizen’s car or home when it comes to search and seizure laws. This legislation is a significant step towards protecting the privacy rights of New Yorkers.”
The proposed legislation requires law enforcement officials to obtain a court-ordered warrant before accessing sensitive information, including data from personal electronic devices, emails, digital documents, text messages, and location information. The bill also includes reasonable exceptions to ensure that police can continue to effectively and efficiently protect public safety. The bill includes notice, reporting, and enforcement provisions that are intended to ensure transparency and oversight regarding the application and enforcement of the proposed law.
“New Yorkers keep their most sensitive, private and personal information on phones and emails, and this information is increasingly accessible by law enforcement’s powerful surveillance tools,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We applaud Assemblyman Dinowitz for advancing our privacy laws so that law enforcement can protect our safety without violating our privacy.”
“As the Court’s ruling in both the Jones and Riley cases called for legislatures to take action on this issue – I’m proud to be standing up for the fundamental Constitutional rights of New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “Waiting for Congress to take action is simply not an option.”