California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that will make it harder for local and state law enforcement to employ cellphone tracking devices and will bar them from bulk data collection about users from technology companies. The bill also raises the standard required for an officer to search a suspect’s cellphone during a traffic stop.
Jeff Tsai, partner in Alston & Bird’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group and former special assistant attorney general under Kamala D. Harris, said the most difficult aspect of the change for law enforcement would be adjusting on the fly, because defense attorneys will argue that the new rules apply immediately, “even the investigations that are occurring right now and are active as we speak.”
He said law enforcement investigations have increasingly become multijurisdictional, with state and local officials collaborating with their counterparts at the federal level or enlisting the aid of attorney generals in other states.
“There is the possibility they could try to haul a particular company that is in California into their state to try to, under the power of their own laws, for the business to comply,” Tsai said.