Researchers Ask Court To Unseal Documents Related To Technical Assistance Requests And Electronic Surveillance Warrants

"Now, we have researchers Jennifer Granick and Riana Pfefferkorn petitioning [PDF] the Northern District of California court to unseal documents related to "technical assistance" cases -- like the one involving the DOJ's attempted use of an All Writs Order to force Apple to crack open a phone for it.

Petitioners Jennifer Granick and Riana Pfefferkorn, researchers at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society proceeding pro se, file this Petition to unseal court records. We file this Petition so that the public may better understand how government agents are using legal authorities to compel companies to assist them in decrypting or otherwise accessing private data subject to surveillance orders. Petitioners hereby seek the docketing of surveillance orders issued by this Court; the unsealing of those dockets; and the unsealing of the underlying Court records in surveillance cases relating to technical-assistance orders issued by this Court to communications service providers, smartphone manufacturers, or other third parties…

This district should contain a great number of documents fitting this description, seeing as it also contains a great number of service providers and third party tech companies.

More specifically, the researchers are looking to gain access to documents in cases where the government has used the following list of statutes to compel cooperation:

  • the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2522;
  • the Stored Communications Act (or “SCA”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2712;
  • the Pen Register Act (or “Pen/Trap Act”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 3121-3127; and/or
  • the All Writs Act (or “AWA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1651

Not only that, but Granick and Pfefferkorn are asking the court to shift away from the default secrecy that has made this petition necessary."