Michigan voters overwhelmingly approve proposal 2 on search warrant for electronic data

Voters have turned out and thrown support behind Michigan Proposal 2, which deals with the need for a search warrant to access a person's electronic data and electronic communications like phones and laptops.

Proposal 2 has been overwhelmingly approved with almost 4 million Michigan voters checking yes to require search warrants for electronic data. The results show almost 90% of the voters approved of the plan that pertains to an individual’s electronic data, communications, and whether law enforcement agencies have a right to it.

It deals with unlawful search and seizure by the government.under Proposition 2, access to a person’s electronic data and communications would be protected from search and seizures performed by law enforcement and would require a warrant for them to be viewed. In other words, it would be unlawful for police to search through a citizen’s private data without permission from a judge.

While the current law requires all police departments and security agencies to acquire a warrant before searches and seizures of a person’s houses, papers, and possessions can be performed, “electronic data” and “electronic communications” is not mentioned in the language.

There is precedent for a legal challenge to a law enforcement agency's searching through one's cell phone. After that case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, a unanimous ruling from the court said a warrant was necessary to inspect the contents of an individual’s phone.

However, most Michigan law enforcement agencies treat cell phone data as private information. Prop 2 would remove any uncertainty about if phone data is considered private.