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Proposed constitutional amendment to limit police scanning devices for data

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A proposed constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot this November. It could limit how law enforcement scans for data on your cell phone.

If you’re stopped by police, there are devices which can scan your cell phone or other electronic devices and download your documents and other information. 

Michigan Radio first reported on this in 2011 (see stories below).

Proposal G, the Michigan Search Warrant for Electronic Data Amendment would restrict the use of those devices.

On the ballot, it will read:

A proposed constitutional amendment to require a search warrant in order to access a person’s electronic data or electronic communications

This proposed constitutional amendment would:

• Prohibit unreasonable searches or seizures of a person’s electronic data and electronic communications.

• Require a search warrant to access a person’s electronic data or electronic communications, under the same conditions currently required for the government to obtain a search warrant to search a person’s house or seize a person’s things.

Republican State Senator Jim Runestad shepherded the resolution through the legislature where it was approved unanimously in both chambers. He says law enforcement would first have to show a need to scan your cell phone.

“They would not be able to go snooping through the personal communications and data of private citizens willy nilly from this point forward after the passage of this. It’s going to require a warrant in every case,” Runestad said.

In testimony before the legislature, some of the agencies that have used the devices, including the Michigan State Police, indicated they were in favor of the amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union also has stated its support.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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