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Thursday, April 24, 2008

US court says IP addresses are private

A US court has ruled that users have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their internet surfing records and that police must obtain warrants from higher than usual courts in order to force ISPs to hand over records.

The Supreme Court of the state of New Jersey said that information about a person’s use of the internet was so private that police there cannot order ISPs to release surfing details of suspects with a municipal court subpoena.  They must receive a grand jury subpoena, it said.

“The court holds that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the subscriber information they provide to internet service providers,” said the court’s ruling.  “Law enforcement officials can obtain subscriber information by serving a grand jury subpoena on an Internet service provider without notice to the subscriber.”

Many are unaware that a numerical IP address can be captured by the websites they visit.  After Reid’s ISP, Comcast, handed over details of her account, including the IP address from which she accessed the internet, she was found guilty of computer theft in connection with the hacking incident.  Reid overturned that decision on appeal and at the Supreme Court of New Jersey stage, arguing that the evidence should be suppressed.

The court said that although Reid was successful in having the municipal warrant-obtained evidence suppressed, the police were not barred from approaching Comcast again and obtaining the records using an appropriate warrant.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/24/us_rules_ip_addresses_private/

Posted on 04/24
RegulationsPermalink