Antiquated Telecommunications Law Allows On-Line, Warrantless, Electronic Searches

October 27th, 2011

As people and companies put more and more data into "the cloud" most people do not realize that due to the  Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 search warrants are not required in many on-line investigations.  If you stored your data on a server in your office, the police would have a dramatically higher legal standard to meet before anyone could wander through your data.   On-line  the technical legal standard for probable cause to search is substantially lower.   This is because the law governing on-line privacy is older the World Wide Web.  It never envisioned what is now going on.   This law needs to be updated to reflect the present realities of the internet and cloud based applications.  

Here is an excellent Wall Street Journal article talking about the legal realities of this lower electronic standard:

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