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Assembly OKs Bill Requiring Warrants for Electronic Searches

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A bill that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants before they could access private emails, text messages and other electronic communications has narrowly won approval from the California Assembly.

Lawmakers who supported SB178 argued Tuesday that the legislation was a long-overdue effort to protect citizens from unreasonable government searches in the age of the Internet and smart phones.

Opponents say the bill would hamper the ability of law enforcement to investigate child pornographers and others who conduct business online.

The measure’s author, San Francisco Democratic Sen. Mark Leno, roamed the Assembly floor and anxiously watched the vote as it wavered toward securing the 54 votes needed for passage.

The bill eventually passed on a 55-11 vote.

It now goes back to the Senate for a final vote.