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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Online Privacy Bills On Thursday's Legislative Agenda

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

Thursday at the Montana Capitol, legislators will hear bills to increase Montanans' privacy on their iPads, smartphones, and even online.

Republican Representative Daniel Zolnikov of Billings says two of his bills, House Bills 443 and House Bill 444, would require search warrants for police to obtain or go through electronic devices and email databases.

“We want to firmly put in law that you need a warrant to obtain emails because if someone has your emails, you will never know because they could just go to the server that it's held on.”

The Montana Police Protective Association will oppose the bills because they say it would hinder their effort to stop some crimes before they happen. Currently, police usually get an investigative subpoena to obtain online information, which is easier to get than a warrant. The association fears the warrant requirement will make it harder for police to find suspicious behavior like downloading child pornography or laundering money.

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