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California Enacts New Digital Privacy Laws

California Enacts New Digital Privacy Laws
[Photo: Flickr user Binary Koala]

A new set of laws is giving Californians the strongest digital privacy rights in the U.S. The Electronic Communication Privacy Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown late Thursday, bars law enforcement agencies or investigative entities from handing over any sort of digital communications or metadata without a warrant. The law is by far the most public-friendly in the country.

“This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians,” Nicole Ozer, the technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of California, said in a statement. “We hope this is a model for the rest of the nation in protecting our digital privacy rights.”

Two sections in particular, pointed out by privacy rights organization EPIC, will have long-term consequences for the tech industry. Drone flights over private property are prohibited when conducted for the purpose of taking photographs, video, or sound recordings of individuals. Another law prohibits smart TVs from using voice recognition features unless users explicitly opt into the feature while setting their television up.

Although California is home to a huge chunk of America’s technology companies, the state legislature in Sacramento has traditionally favored privacy protections that inhibit unfettered data collection and aggregation–now a common side effect of using many consumer electronics and Internet services.

[via Wired]

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