Utah could be the first state to pass a ‘digital privacy’ law

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Remington Begay, a senior at Monument Valley High School, works on a computer at the school on Thursday, January 30, 2014.

A Utah state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would offer more protection for emails, instant messages and other online data.

Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, sponsored House Bill 57, which would make it so any “individual who transmits electronic information or data is the presumed owner of the electronic information or data,” and would require “issuance of a search warrant to obtain certain electronic information or data.”

The Libertas Institute, a libertarian think tank that endorsed the bill, says it appears to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Rep. Hall said his legislation ensures people don’t lose any ownership interest or reasonable expectation of privacy just because it goes through a third party, like Google, Facebook or Dropbox.

“We need to make sure that our digital and our electronic information is protected,” Hall told FOX 13 on Monday. “Just because it goes through wires, just because it goes in the cloud doesn’t mean we lose an expectation of privacy.”

Elizabeth Converse, the director of operations for the Utah Technology Council, told FOX 13 the council was looking into the bill.

“I think we support any time the legislature moves to update laws to make them more current to what people are using in today’s world,” she told FOX 13. “As we become more digital, we need to be cognizant of the fact that all of those laws might not be keeping up with the times.”

See more at FOX 13.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.