U.S. v. Andrus

My Wired News column today is Hack My Son's Computer, Please, a discussion of the Fourth Amendment opinion in U.S. v. Andrus (pdf), issued in April by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the case, a three judge panel of the Court said that police reasonably believed that a 91-year-old father was an authorized user of his adult son's password-protected computer, in part because the officers did not know the computer was password-protected because they used Encase to scan it. The defendant's attorney will ask the full Court to rehear the case en banc and my colleague, Professor Paul Ohm at the University of Colorado Law School, and I are working on an amicus brief in support of the proposition that where the only thing authorizing a search of a private computer is the consent of a third party, the officers can not use a tool that is designed to disregard locks that keep that third party out, indicating that the person didn't have the authority to consent to the search in the first place. I'm studying EnCase for the brief. Any ideas are welcome.

For more discussion of the Andrus case, visit this threat on The Volokh Conspiracy.


Jennifer it's a really a bit of a grey area but I personally think it's a violation. There just aren't many cases where I can see the govt needing to do this. Then again, it's not like they'd take our privacy and/or rights away (sarcasm).

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