M.D.Ala.: Govt’s email SW in identity theft scheme is overbroad; applications need to be limited and resubmitted

The government’s email search applications are overbroad and don’t sufficiently protect the privacy rights of the account holders. The government, however, can limit the applications and submit them again. “The Magistrate Judge’s denial of the search warrant applications was not clearly erroneous. Because the constitutional infirmities can be corrected with moderate alterations, however, the Government’s search warrants will be issued with the specific modifications described in the accompanying Order. Those limitations impose (1) a date restriction on the data to be turned over by the provider based on an individualized assessment of the accompanying probable cause evidence for each email account, and (2) an instruction applicable to all the accounts that the searches be conducted through keyword searches and other appropriate protocols so as to limit the universe of data to be reviewed to that which is more likely to be pertinent. The Government is free to return and seek additional search warrants based on the new evidence it discovers.” United States v. Search of Info. Associated with 15 Email Addresses, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159535 (M.D. Ala. Sept. 28, 2017), adopting 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117354 (M.D. Ala. July 14, 2017) posted here.

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