monday, 30 may of 2016

US appeals court denies ´right to deletion´ of digital evidence

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday concluded that enforcement officials acted in good faith when they retained and searched copies of electronic files seized during a separate investigation that took place years before. In U.S. v. Ganias, Stavros Ganias argued against his 2011 tax-evasion conviction asserting that the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizures prohibits the government from retaining and searching evidence "not covered by the original warrant." The Second Circuit had initially ruled in Ganias' favor, then granted this en banc appeal. The court decided that investigators acted in good faith when they searched Ganias' hard drives, which were seized pursuant to a 2006 warrant, because there was an absence of court rulings or law regarding the issue at the time. Although, the court did not reach the Fourth Amendment issue, it suggested that they still would have rejected Ganias's 'right to deletion' argument. Justice Chin, argued that the "protections of the Fourth Amendment are even more important in the context of modern technology [because] the government has a far greater ability to intrude into a person's private affairs". Justice Chin maintained that the investigators' actions were not excused by the good faith exception even if investigators did not violate Ganias's Fourth Amendment rights when it retained and reexamined his files for evidence of additional crimes.

Changes in technology continue to raise important privacy questions. In April, the US Supreme Court approved a rule change that would permit US judges to issue search warrants granting access to computers in any jurisdiction. Also last month, Microsoft sued the US Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the privacy of their customers' emails. In February, Apple Inc. asked the US government to create a panel of experts to discuss issues of security versus privacy after the emergence of a legal conflict between law enforcement the company. Last November, the Supreme Court rejected a case to determine whether it is necessary to obtain a search warrant when a law enforcement requests access to cell phone location data.

(Published by Jurist - May 29, 2016)

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