Michiganders will gain new legal protections for digital communication from this proposal.
MICHIGAN—Michiganders overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposal 2 during the election period ending on Tuesday, which would create a simple change to the Michigan constitution designed to address modern-day privacy concerns.
The proposal would amend the constitution to require a search warrant to access a person’s electronic data and communications.
Wednesday, the measure had 3,111,723 votes in favor, for 89.01% of the vote, compared to 384,032 votes against, for 10.99%. In total, 76 of 83 counties had reported according to results on Michigan.gov.
Currently, law enforcement is allowed to seek warrants “to access electronic data and communications” based on the “searches and seizures” provision of the Michigan Constitution and the US Bill of Rights, the Livonia based Citizens Research Council said.
Law enforcement is also allowed to read emails without a warrant, but that could all change soon.
Many search protocols are based on the 1967 ‘Katz v. US’ case, during which the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment’s protections against warrantless searches extended anywhere Americans have “a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
But that standard has not been officially defined in today’s complex digital world.
Proposal 2 makes sure that standard electronic communications are protected.
“The courts are coming along on that but enshrining it in our constitution is a very important step,” said Shelli Weisburg, political director of the ACLU of Michigan, prior to the vote.
If Proposal 2 passes as expected, typical electronic data, text messages, and emails will gain extra protections.
The measure adds a new expectation of privacy for electronic data and communications—both would be protected from unreasonable searches according to the federal constitution’s Fourth Amendment.