I was waiting to see if he’d write about this case, and I’m glad to see Orin Kerr has:
The Post’s Tom Jackman has an interesting story about a criminal case pending in Los Angeles before U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney:
At a giant Best Buy repair shop in Brooks, Ky., Geek Squad technicians work on computers owned by people across the country, delving into them to retrieve lost data. Over several years, a handful of those workers have notified the FBI when they see signs of child pornography, earning payments from the agency.
After reviewing where there is precedent for some aspects of this, Orin writes, in part:
According to the Post story, the government is arguing that the computer owner waived his Fourth Amendment rights because he signed a written form stating that “I am on notice that any product containing child pornography will be turned over to the authorities.” I’m skeptical about that argument. I don’t know the full context, but that language in isolation strikes me as most naturally read as notice that any discovered images would be turned over, not as an understanding that the computer repair technicians would search everywhere on the hard drive to discover such images. Scope of consent issues are always fact-bound, however, so it’s hard to say much more on that.
Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.