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Google asks "Where's Your Warrant?"

Posted By Steven Brill || 27-Jan-2013

Google, Inc., the internet giant, recently announced that it would require warrants from law enforcement officers before releasing information relating to its e-mail service, Gmail, or any data stored through its cloud service. The announcement came within days of Google’s most recent “transparency report,” ( http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2013/01/transparency-report-what-it-takes-for.html) which has shown an increase in recent years of information requests by law enforcement for data on Google and Gmail users. The announcement is interesting because under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, law enforcement officers can generally obtain any data stored for more than 6 months without needing a warrant from a judge.

It is unclear whether other internet service providers will follow suit, but users should be aware that Google has voluntarily required law enforcement agents to get a warrant, and can waive that requirement whenever it chooses. Likewise, plenty of user data is still provided without a warrant, under the ECPA, such as a user’s name, IP address, where they logged on from, when users have logged on, and what other accounts are associated with the Gmail account.

As technology evolves, be sure that you are represented by attorneys who can adapt to the new challenges that arise. The criminal attorneys at Sullivan & Brill have developed special experience in challenging the use of electronic evidence, such as emails and cell-phone records. Our knowledge of current technology, as well as the criminal defense process, makes us an excellent fit for legal representation in today’s environment