LA Times – “A cluster of new and proposed state and federal laws will soon make it harder for people accused of crimes to defend themselves. All of these laws are well-intended — to protect privacy by shielding sensitive personal information — but they suffer from a fundamental unfairness that needs correction. These laws tilt the scale in favor of the prosecution by giving police access to lots of useful data while putting critical information out of defendants’ reach. Social media messages, photo metadata, Amazon Echo recordings, smart water meter data, and Fitbit readings have all been used in criminal cases. The new laws would limit how defendants can access this key evidence, making it difficult or impossible for defendants to show they acted in self-defense, or a witness is lying, or someone else is guilty of the crime.
The California Consumer Privacy Act, which was approved in 2018, allows law enforcement officers to obtain data from technology companies and prohibit those companies from immediately notifying the person they are investigating. Such delayed notice may be necessary to investigate someone who is dangerous or likely to destroy evidence or flee. But the law does not give defense investigators the same right to delay notification to witnesses or others — who might well pose a threat to the defendant — when they subpoena data from tech companies as part of the defense’s case. Legislators need to amend the law to fix this flaw by the Sept. 13 deadline for making final changes to the statute…”