Apr 302014
 April 30, 2014  Posted by  Business, Non-U.S., Surveillance

Michael Geist writes:

Every 27 seconds. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant). 

In most warrantless cases, the telecommunications companies were entitled to say no. The law says that telecom companies and Internet providers may disclose personal information without a warrant as part of a lawful investigation or they can withhold the information until law enforcement has obtained a warrant. According to newly released information, three telecom providers alone disclosed information from 785,000 customer accounts in 2011, suggesting that the actual totals were much higher. Moreover, virtually all providers sought compensation for complying with the requests.

Read more on Michael Geist.

Apr 302014
 April 30, 2014  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Youth & Schools

Brian Womack reports:

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) is taking additional steps to avoid marketing to kids, this time by removing advertisements from e-mails in its education suite.

The company said today in a blog post that it has stopped scanning Gmail messages within the Apps for Education software package, and can’t collect or use the student data for advertising. The suite, which includes Gmail, calendar, documents and spreadsheets, serves more than 30 million students.

Read more on Bloomberg Businessweek.

Apr 302014
 April 30, 2014  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

Orin Kerr writes:

One of the recurring issues raised in the Supreme Court’s cell phone search arguments today asked the following question: What’s the practical difference a warrant requirement would make? If the government often will have probable cause to search the phone for evidence, and a warrant search can be quite invasive, how much privacy does it actually add to impose a warrant requirement? It’s an interesting question. Here are some thoughts on answers:

Read more on WaPo The Volokh Conspiracy.

Apr 292014
 April 29, 2014  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Surveillance, U.S.

Alan Butler of EPIC writes:

Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, two cases involving the warrantless search of an individual’s cell phone incident to arrest. These cases present an important and fundamental Fourth Amendment question: whether the police can search the entire contents of an individual’s cell phone incident to any lawful arrest. As others have noted today, the Justices seemed to recognize that cell phones and other digital devices create a “new world” that justifies a modified search incident to arrest rule. But the Justices struggled throughout the arguments in both cases to identify a workable rule.

One important practical insight from Orin Kerr is that, given the short time frame for a decision (the case will be decided by mid-June), it is possible the Justices will seek a unified majority author for both the Riley and Wurie opinions. Given that consideration, and the facts and arguments in Wurie, it is possible that an unexpected “middle ground” compromise will emerge focused on the plain view doctrine. But regardless of the particular majority approach, it seems very unlikely that the Justices will endorse the broad categorical rule that all individuals’ cell phones are subject to limitless search incident to arrest. And if the Court can’t agree on a compromise solution, Justice Kagan might have enough votes for a categorical ban on warrantless cell phone searches.

Read more on EPIC.