Home to Silicon Valley, California has been at the forefront of protecting privacy with three new laws in as many years. According to the website Lexology, the most recent piece of legislation, coming into effect on January 1 2016, will give the sunshine state “the strongest digital privacy rights in the U.S.” Yet, the brunt of the new measures concern strengthening privacy breach notification regimes, hardly a major shift in legislative intent. Rather, these changes represent an incremental updating of the law in order to make its language and application more fit for purpose.
However, that cannot be said for the flagship in this sea battalion of privacy measures, the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA). Introduced by Democratic Senator Mark Leno in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Riley v. California, the new Act requires a search warrant for law enforcement officials to access digital personal communication. The Act also extends the definition of personal information to include metadata, thereby bringing the Californian legal framework more closely in line with European data protection laws.