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Appeals court reverses its own privacy ruling

Was the terrorists wot did it
Tue Sep 14 2010, 15:01

A US APPEALS COURT has reversed itself on the idea of computer privacy that it had previously upheld.

Last year the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark data privacy ruling that curtailed the US government's computer search and seizure powers. The ruling was made in the case of 104 US baseball players who had their hard drives ransacked by feds looking for evidence of drug use.

The appeals court made the ruling to protect privacy rights enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Then computer searches were only allowed to obtain specifically requested data on a hard drive and the world was a better place.

Then the same court bowed to pressure from the Obama administrations, which was looking to expand searches. Back in May the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration wanted to change the so called "Miranda warning" in this international terrorist age.

This was observed to prevent self-incrimination when the police read suspects their rights. It was also enforced by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to prevent the dragnet data searches that saw the baseball players and their hard drives dragged through the courts.

Now the court has flipped a 180 and gone back up the road to extend government powers to search computer data. The court reversed its earlier decision yesterday in a 58 page ruling (PDF).

The court bowed to pressure from the Obama administration to make an exception in the rule for "public safety". While this meant that the feds could still access only data identified in a warrant, it also opened a loophole in the law to access that data and effectively eliminated the concept of personal computer data privacy. µ


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