Runestad privacy resolution to be placed on November ballot

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad that would protect residents against unreasonable searches and seizures, which will now be placed on the November statewide election ballot.

Senate Joint Resolution G would clearly define in the Michigan Constitution that electronic data and communications are property and are exempt from search and seizure without a warrant.

“I am incredibly proud to have this important privacy amendment placed in front of the voters,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “This is an important and historic step toward protecting the privacy rights of Michiganders for generations to come. We now have the opportunity to make Michigan a national leader in personal privacy protection.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to search emails and cell phones seized during arrest.

Runestad said that many of the privacy court case judgments narrowly defend privacy protections and that this issue will continue to be litigated with each new technology and circumstance.

“That is why we need to establish a broad constitutional protection,” he said. “The intent of SJR G is to provide clarity in the law that regardless of method of collection, device used or method of storing information, a search warrant is required to obtain access to our electronic papers and communications.”

Runestad introduced the same resolution in the state House in 2016 and again in 2017 with 107 supporting votes both times, and he said it is likely to be supported overwhelmingly by Michigan residents if placed on the ballot.

Most recently, New Hampshire placed this amendment on the ballot and it passed with 81% voter approval.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to choose between using new technologies and protecting their privacy,” Runestad said. “It is long past time that our state extends the same basic protections to our electronic data that have existed for our paper data for centuries.

“While we can’t predict what technological advances will come next, this amendment guarantees that our personal data is secure from state overreach.”

SJR G will be placed on the next statewide general election ballot.

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