monday, 6 february of 2017

Federal judge orders Google to comply with search warrant

A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Friday ordered Google to disclose certain information found in foreign-stored e-mails, as requested by an FBI search warrant. This decision conflicts with a previous Second Circuit Court ruling, which was most recently denied a rehearing.

By virtue of the way e-mails are distributed on Google's e-mail server, the tech corporation was unable to decipher whether certain sought-after e-mails were sent and received in the US and, following the Second Circuit ruling, refused to provide the FBI with the potentially foreign e-mails.

The judge said, because "the invasion of privacy will occur in the United States" and "the searches of the electronic data disclosed by Google pursuant to the warrants will occur in the United States," the requested information falls within an acceptable domestic use of the Stored Communications Act. In addition, the judge stated there was no seizure, as no "meaningful interference" with the e-mail account holder's "possessory interest."

Technology continues to raise important privacy questions. In April Microsoft sued the US Department of Justice regarding the privacy of their customers' e-mails. Microsoft filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington in an attempt to block authorities from taking customer e-mails without Microsoft's knowledge.

Also in April the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that obtaining phone location records without a warrant was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In November 2015 the US Supreme Court rejected a case to determine whether it is necessary to obtain a search warrant when law enforcement requests access to cell phone location data.

In October of 2015 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Electronic Communications Act (CECA), a law that many are touting as a substantial step forward for digital privacy and protecting users' rights. The law, which was approved alongside more than 10 other bills, bars any state's law enforcement agency or other investigative entity from requesting sensitive metadata from persons or businesses without a warrant. Also in 2015 the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that EU user data transferred to the US by various technology companies is not sufficiently protected.

(Published by Jurist - February 5, 2017)

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