If law enforcement wanted to read your letters or other paper correspondence, they have to get a warrant. But in this age of technology, you don't have the same protections. If your email has already been opened or is more than 6 months old, law enforcement and other government agencies can read them.
"The courts have said that the laws are very confusing and have permitted the government to search your emails held by providers without a warrant," said Francisco Loboco with the American Civil Liberties Union.
While government investigators generally look at email for evidence of criminal activity, that's not always the case. Email privacy became a national debate after CIA Director David Petraeus resigned over an extramarital affair. Privacy groups asked if the CIA can't keep the FBI from reading Petraeus' private email, what protections do ordinary people have?
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) wants to clearly define the line in California. Electronic communications should be no different than paper communications: They're all private.