Thursday, December 16, 2010

EFF wins Privacy case in Third Circuit

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has won a major victory protecting your cell phone location data from unreasonable seizure by the government. The decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals says that judges can deny requests for "D Orders and require a warrant to avoid possible Fourth Amendment complications.

This is more important than it looks at first glance. Though the case deals with cell phone location data, "D Orders" are used for a variety of communications related, including email. In the Third Circuit the government can no longer assume it will be able to demand communications from ISP's or other communications companies and automatically be granted access by the courts. The EFF is intending to use the decision in similar cases in other circuits, and expects others will, too.

This is a good decision. The governments position on "D Orders" is that they should be granted automatically. Now the government has to be sure of it's case before seeking information. They can still get information using "D Orders" but they have to make sure they won't run afoul of the Fourth Amendment by doing so. At least in the Third Circuit. That will decrease the number of cases that can be disputed on Fourth Amendment grounds, saving time and money. We can only hope other Circuits (or the Supreme Court) will agree with this decision.