Just a week ago, we noted that the Texas Legislature sent a bill to Gov. Rick Perry that would force state law enforcement to get a warrant if they wanted to play NSA. This week, Gov. Perry signed that bill. The text of the law is available here, and as you can see, it’s pretty thorough–except for one point, which I will get to in a moment.

The law does not just cover recent communications, but also communications stored past 180 days (or six months)–weirdly, something that the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act exempts from requiring a warrant. It even includes cloud computing services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, by specifically including remote computing services in its protections.

All in all, it seems like a great deal for Texans. Indeed, a bill of this sort would be most welcome at the federal level, where a great deal more spying takes place. It would be especially welcome since the Texas law has one glaring flaw.

Because it is a state law, it does not affect federal law enforcement–no matter what bluster you hear from Austin about Texas doing things its way and how the feds better not come around. For better or worse, we do not live in an era where nullification of federal laws by the states exists as anything more than a historical point or an abstract theory. So unfortunately, even if you live in Texas, you may want to take this article’s suggestions to heart.

Once, my father went to the Lone Star State, and brought me back a shirt that said “Don’t Mess With Texas.” It appears that, for now, the federal government can, but it will be that much more difficult for Texan police to do so. R Street supports updating the federal ECPA to help our friends in Texas fully live up to their motto.

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