The Seventh Circuit has ruled that police did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they conducted a warrantless search of digital media storage devices that they were “substantially certain” contained child pornography. The court concluded that because the digital media storage devices had been turned over to them by private parties that “knew” what the devices contained, the warrantless search of the devices by police was legal under the “private search” doctrine. That doctrine, as normally understood, allows the government to conduct a search without a warrant as long as the search does not “exceed the scope of the private search.” This decision, in Rann v. Atchison, potentially gives law enforcement remarkably broad leeway to conduct warrantless searches of media turned over by private parties, including companies that suspect employees of wrongdoing.
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Seventh Circuit expands ability of police to search digital devices without a warrant
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