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Search and seizure laws in play with three cases

In a ruling last week on digital rights, the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals confirmed that the police need to get a warrant before they can open email attachments.  This is even true if a third party’s automated system has flagged the attachments as potentially illegal.

There’s a twist here – the defendant was changed in both federal and California state court, and the California Court of appeal came to the opposite decision.     And to make this more complicated, there’s a related case in Minnesota’s Supreme Court around the expectation of privacy within a company’s terms of service and how it impacts Fourth Amendment protections.  

Link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their statement on these cases.

Why do we care?

Privacy in the US is managed by search and seizure laws more than just about anything, so the way these laws are interpreted is important.    This isn’t fully fleshed out case law.   While it won’t be fixed overnight, tracking it to conclusion is why we care.