Archives: Electronic Surveillance and Law Enforcement Access

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Federal Magistrate Judge in California Holds that the Fifth Amendment Prohibits Law Enforcement from Forcing People to Unlock Phones with Fingerprints

Last week, a California magistrate judge denied federal prosecutors’ application for a search warrant on the grounds that law enforcement cannot force people to unlock their phones using biometric features, such as fingerprints and facial recognition.… Continue Reading

Australia Proposes New Encryption Legislation

In August 2018, the Government of Australia unveiled a new proposed bill that would grant the county’s national security and law enforcement agencies additional powers when confronting encrypted communications and devices. The text of the draft Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 (the “Assistance and Access Bill” or the “Bill”) states … Continue Reading

Covington Webinar: Examining the CLOUD Act

Covington’s Alex Berengaut and Kate Goodloe today hosted a webinar on the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (“CLOUD”) Act.  The CLOUD Act was signed into law in March and creates a new framework for government access to data held by technology companies worldwide.  The webinar, hosted with DataGuidance, is available here.  The webinar expands … Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s Carpenter Decision Requires Warrant for Cell Phone Location Data

In a decision that defines how the Fourth Amendment applies to information collected in the digital age, the Supreme Court today held that police must use a warrant to obtain from a cell phone company records that detail the location and movements of a cell phone user.  The opinion in Carpenter v. United States limits … Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Courts Split on Forensic Searches of Devices Seized at Border

Two federal appellate courts are taking sharply different views on whether—and why—government agents must have some amount of suspicion to conduct forensic searches of electronic devices seized at the border. The Fourth Circuit on May 9, 2018, held that government agents must have reasonable suspicion to conduct forensic searches of cell phones seized at the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Unanimously Holds that Unauthorized Driver Has Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in Rental Car

By Lauren Moxley Today, the Supreme Court released its decision in Byrd v. United States.  The Court held that under the Fourth Amendment, a driver of a rental vehicle can challenge a search of the vehicle even if he is not listed as an authorized driver on the rental agreement. The case began in September … Continue Reading

EU Releases e-Evidence Proposal for Cross-Border Data Access

On April 17, 2018, the European Commission published the e-Evidence Initiative, long-awaited legislation that would create a new framework for European Union (“EU”) Member States to access content data and metadata (collectively “e-evidence”) across national borders.  The European Commission released the proposal less than one month after the United States created its own framework governing … Continue Reading

Government’s Response to Malware Defendant’s Constitutional Challenge Falls Short

Last summer, Marcus Hutchins, the security researcher who stopped the “WannaCry” malware attack, was arrested and charged for his role in allegedly creating and conspiring to sell a different piece of malware, known as Kronos.  As we have previously discussed on this blog, however, the indictment was notable for its lack of allegations connecting Hutchins … Continue Reading

CLOUD Act Creates New Framework for Cross-Border Data Access

On March 23, 2018, Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (“CLOUD”) Act, which creates a new framework for government access to data held by technology companies worldwide. The CLOUD Act, enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, has two components. Part I:  Extraterritorial Reach of … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Arguments in Carpenter Show that It May Be Time to Redefine the “Third-Party Doctrine”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Carpenter v.  U. S., a case that involved the collection of 127 days of Petitioner Thomas Carpenter’s cell site location information as part of an investigation into several armed robberies.  We attended the argument to gain any insights into how the Supreme Court may resolve this … Continue Reading

New ECPA Reform Legislation Introduced in the Senate

By Lauren Moxley In late July, three bipartisan bills to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (“ECPA”) were introduced in the Senate. Each of the bills propose different updates to ECPA, which governs law enforcement access to consumer information stored with service providers. As we have discussed here, here, here, and here, the … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Whether the Fourth Amendment Protects Cell-Location Data

By Lauren Moxley Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Carpenter v. United States, a case addressing Americans’ privacy rights in cell phone tracking data. The Court will consider whether a warrantless search and seizure of cell phone records revealing the location and movements of a cell phone user over the course of several months … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit: CFAA’s Prohibition on Accessing Computer Without Authorization “Unambiguous”

In a decision released Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit held that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act’s (“CFAA”) prohibition on accessing a computer “without authorization” is violated when a person whose access to a computer system has been “affirmatively revoked” nonetheless accesses that computer system by other means. In United States v. Nosal, the Ninth Circuit … Continue Reading

California Requires a Warrant To Search Electronic Communications

On Thursday, October 8, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“CalECPA”), which requires law enforcement officials in California to obtain a warrant to access digital records, including emails and text messages. The new law was supported by privacy rights advocates and technology companies, many of which are pushing … Continue Reading

Pocket Dials Are Not Private, Sixth Circuit Says

A person who makes an accidental “pocket dialed” call has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversations exposed to the person who picks up that call, the Sixth Circuit ruled last week.  The court compared this situation to a homeowner that mistakenly fails to cover his windows, exposing his actions to public view.  In … Continue Reading

The EU’s Highest Court Rules That The EU’s Data Protection Directive Applies To Home Security Surveillance Cameras

By Fredericka Argent Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that owners of home surveillance cameras could be breaching the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EU (the Directive), when those cameras are used to monitor public spaces.  The ruling was made following a request from the Nejvyšší správní soud (The Supreme Administrative Court … Continue Reading

Franken Bill Would Require Express Consent to Collection of Geolocation Information

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) plans to re-introduce a bill intended to limit the use of geolocation data obtained from consumer smartphones and car navigation systems. The Location Privacy Protection Act, which was first introduced in 2011, would require a user’s express authorization to collect, receive, record, obtain, or disclose to a non-governmental individual or entity … Continue Reading

Task Force: Phone Companies Should Keep Bulk Metadata Records for NSA

Billions of bulk phone call records used for government surveillance programs should be stored with telecommunications providers rather than with the NSA, according to reports of a proposal from a presidential task forced examining reforms to surveillance authorities.  Recommendations from the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology were presented to the President on Friday,  … Continue Reading

Self-Regulatory Code Released for Retailers Using WiFi To Track Customers

Under a new self-regulatory code released earlier this week, brick-and-mortar retailers that track customer in-store movements using mobile phone WiFi signals must disclose the practice to customers and allow them to opt out. The code was created by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and a group of mobile analytics companies.  It was announced jointly … Continue Reading

European Parliament Calls for Suspension of the SWIFT Agreement following NSA Surveillance Claims

On October 23, 2013, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of an EU-US Agreement on the transfer of financial data for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (the so-called “SWIFT Agreement”).  The resolution comes after allegations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has had unauthorized access to EU citizens’ bank … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Nixes FISA Surveillance Suit on Standing Grounds

This week, in a 5-4 decision in Clapper et al. v. Amnesty International USA et al., the United States Supreme Court rejected two theories of Article III standing presented by a group of attorneys, human rights, labor, legal, and media organizations who sought a declaration that surveillance under section 1881a of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act … Continue Reading
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