Should electronic data be considered personal property? Michigan voters will decide

Posted at 9:43 AM, Jun 26, 2020

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan voters will decide in the November election if electronic data and communication should be considered personal property, safe from unreasonable search and seizure.

A bill to put the measure on the ballot passed the state House on Wednesday. The ballot measure would amend the Michigan constitution to include electronic data and electronic communications as items law enforcement would require a search warrant to access. If passed, the amendment would apply the same protections to “person, houses, papers and possessions” that are in the state constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Michigan is not the first state to try to legislate for reasonable cause and a search warrant to obtain electronic data. Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and more have also tried.

Though the Supreme Court maintains law enforcement already needs reasonable cause to obtain a warrant to access electronic data during an arrest, amendment sponsor Sen. Jim Runestad, a White Lake Republican, has said that is not enough.

In a committee meeting in October, he said third-party companies can forward electronic data to law enforcement, avoiding the requirement of a warrant.