A Victory for Privacy Rights as CalECPA is Signed Into Law in California

A Victory for Privacy Rights as CalECPA is Signed Into Law in California thumbnail

At DreamHost we were very pleased by the big announcement in October that the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) has been signed into law, establishing new legal protections for digital privacy that better reflect how technology is used today (with so much sensitive personal information stored digitally and online).

Related: The History of Internet Privacy

CalECPA requires that law enforcement must obtain a warrant in order to view individuals’ digital records, including emails, texts, and geographical location. This warrant requirement covers data records stored on personal devices, as well as data stored by online services (such as, say, your favorite web hosting service). The CalECPA bill was sponsored from the start by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, and the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and saw support from major Silicon Valley companies including Adobe, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Google, and Twitter. It’s fair to say that the public disclosure of various U.S. government digital surveillance programs over the past two years – which has forced many tech companies to explain to their users the policies and procedures they have in place when it comes to rightfully protecting users’ privacy in the face of government requests for their data – influenced many of these companies in demanding support for the new law.

Here at DreamHost, we believe deeply in the importance of protecting our customers’ Constitutional rights including unreasonable and illegal search and seizure of personal data. In our transparency report released earlier this year, we were proud to demonstrate the high bar we set for ensuring the legitimacy of information requests. We absolutely comply with all legitimate law enforcement, DMCA, trademark, and information requests. However, every single request is thoroughly screened by our legal and abuse teams, and we routinely reject requests that do not meet the standards required by procedural and substantive laws. A number that we are proud of – and one that somewhat shockingly proves the need for laws like CalECPA – is that in 2014 DreamHost legally rejected 57% of combined information requests. This is a number most other tech companies don’t even approach.

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At DreamHost, we respect the importance of privacy, and will always put in the extra effort to protect our customers’ privacy to the fullest extent of the law. We will also continue to support new laws that make privacy easier to protect.

The signing of CalECPA makes California the third state in the United States to protect digital records from warrantless searches, joining Maine and Utah. Of course, this means there’s still plenty of work to be done, as we would like to see these protections extended across the entire nation.