Senator Alex PadillaSACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — On Wednesday, the California State Assembly gave final approval to Senate Concurrent Resolution 54 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima). SCR 54 directs the California Law Revision Commission to examine California law and recommend needed reforms as it relates to government access to customer information from communications service providers.

“Laws enacted in the era of monopoly landline telephone service do not reflect advances in telecommunications technology and the vast amount of customer information now available from providers,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “California statutes regarding access to customer information lack a clear framework and a defined legal standard for when government can obtain the communication information and from whom,” added Padilla.

“Even before the current national debate about federal government surveillance of communications, I was focused on the need to update California statutes to better protect the public’s constitutional rights. Recent revelations about federal surveillance methods add urgency to this issue,” said Senator Padilla.

SCR 54 states that the update is needed because “widespread use of 21st Century mobile and Internet-based communications technologies and services enable service providers to monitor, collect, and retain large quantities of information about customers, including when and with whom a customer communicates or transacts business, location data, and the content of communications.”

Specifically, SCR 54 requires the commission to report to the Legislature recommendations to revise state and local statutes on government access to information in order to reflect 21st century mobile and Internet-based technologies, to protect customers’ constitutional rights to privacy and free speech and freedom from unlawful searches and seizures, to enable state and local government agencies to protect public safety, and to clarify the process communications service providers are required to follow in response to requests, with a specific definition of whether a subpoena, warrant, court order, or other process or documentation is required.

An April 25, 2013 opinion by the California Office of Legislative Counsel said state laws vary widely in specifying whether a subpoena, warrant, court order, or other documentation is required for service providers to hand over customer information. A patchwork of laws exists throughout the California Code and range from requiring an undefined “lawful process” in some instances to detailed information on a standard form created by the Attorney General.

“This resolution will assist the legislature in developing a comprehensive framework that will protect a customer’s constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, and freedom from unlawful searches and seizures. At the same time, it will provide the necessary clarity in the law for local and state government agencies to pursue their public safety mission in a lawful manner,” said Padilla.

The California Law Revision Commission is an independent state agency created in 1953 to assist the Legislature and the Governor by examining California law and recommending needed reforms. The seven-member commission conducts its work in public meetings and seeks public comment prior to making final recommendations. More information about the California Law Revision Commission can be found here:

Senator Alex Padilla, 40, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT and is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles.