In United States v. Johnson, the Eleventh Circuit has added to a split in the circuits over how to apply the “private search” doctrine to searches of digital evidence.  That doctrine holds that when police search property after a private party has already done so, they do not need a warrant because the private search negated any reasonable expectation of privacy the property owner might have had in the items searched.  But the doctrine has an important limitation:  the warrantless police search cannot exceed the scope of the private search.  With searches of digital devices, courts are divided over how to define the scope of private searches:  some courts have said that a private party’s examination of any file on a device essentially renders the entire device fair game to a warrantless police search.  Others have held that police can search only the actual data examined by the private party.  The Eleventh Circuit has now joined the latter camp.  This is a more privacy-protective approach, but one that is harder to implement in practice.