Yahoo! Responds to Subpoenas in Good Faith, Immune Under the Stored Communications Act

Internet service provider Yahoo! Inc. received grand jury subpoenas from the District Attorney’s Office for the Southern Judicial Circuit of Georgia, seeking records regarding the identification of one of Yahoo!’s users.  Yahoo! complied with the subpoenas and produced the records.  Fayelynn Sams, the user whose records the Georgia district attorney sought, sued Yahoo!, alleging violations of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) (18 U.S.C. §§2701-2712).  Sams argued that Yahoo! violated the SCA by disclosing information pursuant to invalid subpoenas, and that, even if the subpoenas were valid, Yahoo! violated the SCA by producing the records before the deadlines set in the subpoenas.

The district court granted Yahoo!’s motion to dismiss the complaint, ruling that Yahoo! was immune from liability under the SCA, §2703(e) for disclosing subscriber information in accordance with the terms of a subpoena.  The Ninth Circuit decided the case under §2707(e), which provides immunity for disclosing the information on a “good faith reliance” on a grand jury subpoena.  The interpretation of “good faith reliance” under §2707(e) was a matter of first impression in the Ninth Circuit, i.e., the Ninth Circuit had not previously addressed the issue.  The Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s dismissal.

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Fourth Amendment’s Interplay with Privacy in Today’s Digital World Generates Debate

This week’s post concerns a panel discussion at the 2012 Western District of Washington Annual CLE and District Meeting for Judges and Lawyers, held at the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle, Washington.  The panel discussed the Fourth Amendment and privacy issues in the digital age. 

The title of Professor Dorothy Glancy’s segment was Keeping Up with the Jones Decisions and What May Lie Beyond.  Professor Glancy teaches at Santa Clara University School of Law.  The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its decision in U.S. v. Jones.  The justices agreed that the warrantless GPS tracking of vehicles is unconstitutional, but disagreed on why it’s unconstitutional. 

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No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in IP Address Information Rules Twitter-Wikileaks Court

The decision in this case arose out of the U.S. government’s grand jury investigation of several individuals associated with Wikileaks:  Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrip and Birgitta Jonsdottir.  The government obtained an order under the Stored Communications Act for Twitter to provide the non-content Twitter account records of these individuals.

The Twitter account holders moved to quash the order and to unseal court records, raising arguments under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the Fourth Amendment, the Due Process Clause and the First Amendment.  This blog post discusses the court’s SCA and Fourth Amendment analyses in denying the motion to quash the order.

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