Michigan Approves Amendment Curbing State Surveillance
Voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment extending privacy protections to electronic data and communications.
According to Ballotpedia, the amendment:
Prohibit[s] unreasonable searches or seizures of a person’s electronic data and electronic communications.
Require[s] 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.
The Tenth Amendment Center’s Mike Maharrey notes:
Practically speaking inclusion of electronic communications and data in the state’s constitutional prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures means state and local police in Michigan are now required to obtain a judicial warrant, supported by probable cause, before accessing cell phones and other electronic devices. It also sets the foundation to help prevent law enforcement from accessing private information through third parties.
While it does not directly affect federal surveillance efforts, Maharrey says the amendment:
…sets the foundation to limit state and local surveillance and minimize the amount of personal information collected and stored by state and local governments. By doing so, it also impacts federal surveillance programs that depend on state and local support.
The feds can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE.
Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”
A victory, then for individual privacy, limited government, and civil rights.