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US Court Dings Gov't For Using Seized Data Beyond Scope of Warrant 63

Posted by timothy
from the can't-just-go-fishing dept.
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last week reversed a tax evasion conviction against an accountant because the government had used data from his computers that were seized under a warrant targeting different suspects. The Fourth Amendment, the court pointed out, "prevents the seizure of one thing under a warrant describing another." Law enforcement originally made copies of his hard drives and during off-site processing, separated his personal files from data related to the original warrant. However, 1.5 years later, the government sifted through his personal files and used what it found to build a case against him. The appeals court held that "[i]f the Government could seize and retain non-responsive electronic records indefinitely, so it could search them whenever it later developed probable cause, every warrant to search for particular electronic data would become, in essence, a general warrant," which the Fourth Amendment protects against. The EFF hopes that the outcome of this appeal will have implications for the NSA's dragnet surveillance practice.
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US Court Dings Gov't For Using Seized Data Beyond Scope of Warrant

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  • Unsurprising ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @08:36AM (#47305485) Homepage

    Cardinal Richelieu wrote:

    If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

    When you start collecting everything, either via expanding the scope of your warrant, or just scooping everything up ... sooner or later you can come back to almost anybody and decide that they've done something.

    When law enforcement can retroactively file charges for which they had no initial probable cause or scope, that is a truly Orwellian society.

    And, governments keep saying "but we need to be able to bypass all of these things because of kiddie fiddlers and terrorists".

    I really hope we start to see the courts reign in the level of surveillance and how it can be used. Because, right now, so called 'free' societies and democracy are being eroded as government decides it needs to know everything about everybody just in case something ever comes up.

  • ...then sift through it to file tax evasion charges, but somehow keeping email backups for top IRS employees is beyond them because the hard drive crashed and they had to recycle the backup tapes [politico.com].

    Right.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @08:44AM (#47305555)

    You Commit Three Felonies a Day [wsj.com] - this of course includes the cops and IRS agents.

    People should realize this before saying stupid shit like, "If you do nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about." because you ARE doing something wrong and you most likely don't even realize it.

    Our legal system has become unjust and corrupt.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @09:13AM (#47305789) Homepage

    And what's truly appalling is that federal law enforcement is involved in trying to make an end run around the Constitution in order to be able to trump up charges they wouldn't have been aware of if they hadn't illegally gathered intelligence.

    Given that these people swear an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution ... I'm of the opinion that this whole "parallel construction" crap more or less amounts to a serious crime, because it's done in such a way as to bypass Constitutional protections.

    Any federal agent doing this should be jailed. Or hanged maybe. Because it's a blatant ignoring of the Constitution, and undermines the credibility of the legal system when you can have a hidden actor providing evidence to law enforcement (which they shouldn't have had in the first place) and the conspiring with them to effectively lie to the court and pretend they got this information through legal means.

    They're bypassing the 4th amendment, and ignoring the legal protections of facing your accuser and seeing the evidence against you. And, in this case, once they've constructed an alternate reality, the entire thing is based on a lie that they somehow came up with this information through other means.

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