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Judge Says Search Warrants for E-mails Must Be ‘Limited’ (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
98 points by kanamekun 1508 days ago | hide | past | web | 16 comments | favorite

A decision going straight to the end of the 4th Amendment: "... and no Warrants shall issue [without] particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

This amused me:

"That is to say, use data-mining techniques to not rummage through everything."

Data mining basically /is/ rummaging through everything.

If you read the judge's words carefully you'll realize that he isn't pleased with handing over the police everything so that they don't go on a witch hunt. He also suggests that there be "an independent vendor" instead of the police pulling out the information because if you think of it, all evidence in a case may be held indefinitely and in this case it might be irrelevant and private information.

So although technically data mining is rummaging, it is not on the record and accessible to another person if it is irrelevant.

I like this judge.

Well, the idea is that the computer would do the rummaging and the human viewers would only see the things of relevance.

It's debatable, I guess, if there is any constitutional violation if a machine performs an unauthorized yet unbiased search of your property. But I think most could agree it's better than a human doing it all themselves.

Do you accept that a robot performs a search of your house without a warrant because a robot is "unbiased" ?

No, the point is that the judge determines the precise programming of the robot, and requires that it be programmed to only retrieve certain types of things (e-mails containing certain keywords, in this case).

Do you trust a program to have no bugs ;-)

Never :)

If the robot doesn't make a mess, and forgets about everything that is irrelevant (IE. not covered by the warrent), then go ahead.

"He suggested that the search order be limited to certain keywords or that an independent vendor be asked to automate the process of finding relevant material. "

Not sure that this is great, but baby steps.

An important step would be to limit the time frame of emails covered by the warrant. I dissected the article hoping this would be mentioned but it wasn't.

There are many more limiting factors that can be applied: the sender/recipient being a critical one for me. Why should the government get access to all the emails you send your significant other? In some states there are even laws against that that such a blanket order would circumvent. If the government thinks that he was using email to facilitate the transfer, it should name the parties and their emails and get only the emails between those two parties.

Frank Boyd Says Fibre Cable Tapping Must Be ‘Limited’

He Also Says It's About Mass Surveillance, Not A Specific Technology

Who cares about what a judge says? It's just a person with a hammer and a robe.

And who has made it their profession to study the principles of justice, how they are reflected in the law, and what the law means. It doesn't mean they're right, but it probably means their opinion is worth reading.

If you don't care about what a judge says in a privacy related situation, considering the privacy violations from the government, then what would you care about?

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