Utah passes bill regulating warrant (and exceptions) to search certain electronic information

On March 27, 2019, the Utah Governor signed H.B.57 into law. The Bill modifies provisions related to privacy of electronic information or data and their access by law enforcement.

H.B 57 defines electronic information and data as being any “information or data including a sign, signal, writing, image, sound, or intelligence of any nature transmitted or stored in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo optical system.” The definition includes location information, stored data, and transmitted data of an electronic device.

The Bill requires issuance of a search warrant to obtain certain electronic information or data. “For a criminal investigation or prosecution, a law enforcement agency may not obtain, without a search warrant issued by a court upon probable cause: (i) the location information, stored data, or transmitted data of an electronic device; or (ii) electronic information or data transmitted by the owner of the electronic information or data to a remote computing service provider.”

A warrantless search of electronic information or data is still allowed in certain circumstances, including when law enforcement reasonably believes that evidence will be destroyed before officers can get a search warrant.

The law also requires law enforcement to notify within 14 days that (i)  a warrant was applied for and granted; (ii) the kind of warrant issued; (iii) the period of time during which the collection of the data was authorized; (iv) the offense specified in the application for the warrant; and (v) the identity of the law enforcement agency that filed the application and of the judge who issued the warrant.

In addition, electronic information and data obtained without a warrant are excluded from consideration in legal cases.

The chief sponsor of the bill, Craig Hall, said the goal of HB57 “is to provide the same protections we have in the physical world and apply those to the electronic world.”


More on police needing a warrant to search past location data from a suspect’s cellphone is available at https://www.technethics.com…



For more information on how privacy regulations impact your life, contact Francesca Giannoni-Crystal. Thanks to Federica Romanelli.


Originally published on Technethics on April 2019

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