Advance Notice: Briefs

Voters to decide in Nov. if police need a warrant for online info 

By: - June 26, 2020 11:30 am

Michigan State Police | Susan J. Demas

Should law enforcement be required to obtain a search warrant for a person’s online data and correspondence? That question will be left up to Michiganders in November. 

The Michigan House on Wednesday passed on a 106-0 vote Senate Joint Resolution G, a constitutional amendment that will now go on the general election ballot. 

If passed by voters, the measure would designate electronic data and electronic communications personal property and require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant with reasonable cause before accessing them.

Both the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution contain governance against illegal searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment asserts citizens have a right “to be secure” in their persons, houses, papers and effects, while the state constitution swaps out effects for “possessions.” Under each, search warrants are to be issued when law enforcement has probable cause, with a court signing off on the order. 

If voters pass the ballot measure, “electronic data and electronic communications” will be added to the state Constitution’s list of things guarded against unreasonable search and seizure. 

The resolution was sponsored by state Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) and required a two-thirds vote in both chambers to send the measure to voters. It passed 38-0 in the state Senate on June 11. 

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C.J. Moore
C.J. Moore

C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.