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Mississippi governor approves bill allowing electronic search warrants

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Gov. Tate Reeves has signed a bill into law allowing for a more digital-friendly method of issuing and receiving search warrants.

Now that it’s enacted, House Bill 295 authorizes electronic signatures to be utilized for search warrants. Law enforcement officers can now use an electronic platform on the scene to request a search warrant with the judge being able to sign remotely. It’s intended to speed up the process when searching homes, businesses, automobiles, and mobile devices.

If a warrant is executed on a suspected criminal, the individual would have the chance to submit a digital version of an affidavit to a judge. However, HB 295 states that the affiant must be under oath, understanding that the signature is made under penalty of perjury and in compliance with state law.

According to the bill, there would be no legal grounds to deny electronically requested warrants and signatures used throughout the process, meaning digital signatures would have full legal standing just as written ones currently do.

To reduce skepticism over the legitimacy of one’s name being used in a non-paper platform, the bill requires any applications to allow for digital signatures to be used to have security procedures in place that ensure the authenticity of the digital signature.

An electronic record of the warrant or affidavit, including the time and date of when the signature was attached, must be made. Encryption measures will be enforced to ensure secure access to the application providing the line for electronic signatures.

The new law will go into effect on July 1.

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