Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Arizona Court Rules Arizona Residents Have Right to Internet Privacy

The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that Arizonans have an (Arizona) constitutional right to online privacy to prevent police from accessing one’s identity or home address from a third-party without a warrant. The court ruled that the Arizona constitution provides residents the right to privacy that goes beyond the Fourth amendment protection from unreasonable searches.

Presiding Judge Eppich wrote:

“The third-party doctrine allows the government a peek at this information in a way that is the 21st-century equivalent of a trip through a home to see what books and magazines the residents read, who they correspond with or call, and who they transact with and the nature of those transactions… We doubt the framers of our state constitution intended the government to have such power to snoop in our private affairs without obtaining a search warrant.”

Police and government agencies cannot obtain information about individuals to Internet providers, which includes who they are and their home address– the gateway to finding out exactly who is posting material – without a search warrant. And that requires a showing of some criminal activity.

The Arizona ruling is a first time in the state as federal courts have consistently ruled that once people furnish that information to a third party, which in this case the company that provides Internet service, they have given up any expectation of privacy. And that means the Fourth Amendment protections of the U.S. Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure no longer apply and the government no longer needs a warrant. However, the court majority said the Arizona Constitution makes the federal court rulings in applicable. The court also said the law will need to resolve this tension in such a way that everyone has the same expectation of privacy online.

To read the case, see: https://www.appeals2.az.gov/Decisions/CR20170217%20Opinion.pdf.

Categories: Legal Affairs

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