Proposition 2 to bar warrantless searches, seizures of electronic data if passed in Michigan Nov. election

Michigan law enforcement would be required to obtain search warrant for phones, laptops

What Prop 2 would change, and how your privacy is affected.

In addition to the races for office in the November election, Michigan voters should prepare to vote on a few proposals that would change the state’s constitution.

Proposition 2, also known as Prop 2, would prohibit unreasonable searches or seizures of electronic data and communication by law enforcement. The proposal would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for that data, the same way the government currently needs to obtain a search warrant to search a person’s home or seize someone’s belongings.

For years police have used technology, such as Stingray or Hailstorm, to collect broad data from cell phones. As time went on, how and when law enforcement use that technology has increasingly come under scrutiny -- especially this summer, as protesters decried alleged gathering of cellphone data by police.

“This is needed because we don’t know what technology (will be available) in the future,” said Merissa Kovach with the ACLU of Michigan. “This just strengthens our own constitution, and that way we don’t have to rely on the federal courts like we have before.”

Proposition 2 is on the Michigan General Election ballot this November after unanimous vote of approval from both the state House and Senate. The proposal is not facing any formal opposition with just five days until Election Day.

The measure has also been backed by the Michigan State Police, but some are concerned that the proposal could impede the work of law enforcement.

Just last month, the state house fiscal agency reported that Proposition 2 could make it difficult for Michigan law enforcement officials and agencies to investigate cybercrimes -- such as internet sex trafficking -- and enforce cybercrime laws.

However, supporters of the proposition say there are ways to investigate those crimes without violating people’s rights.

“What’s important is that people’s personal privacy is protected,” Kovach said. “And if that means that law enforcement needs to show good reason and probable cause for accessing our private technology and communications, then that’s a good thing.”

More than a dozen other states either have laws on the books or pending legislation similar to Michigan’s Proposition 2. If the proposal is passed this election, it would...

Election Day for the U.S. presidential election is on November 3. You can view a sample of what your Michigan ballot will look like online right here.

Be prepared: What to know before voting in General Election in Michigan on Nov. 3, 2020

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.