“US judge sides with FBI, orders Google to hand over user data”

June 3, 2013

The Washington Post released the following:

By Associated Press, Published: May 31 | Updated: Saturday, June 1

“SAN FRANCISCO — Google must comply with the FBI’s demand for data on certain customers as part of a national security investigation, according to a ruling by a federal judge who earlier this year determined such government requests are unconstitutional.

The decision involves “National Security Letters,” thousands of which are sent yearly by the FBI to banks, telecommunication companies and other businesses. The letters, an outgrowth of the USA Patriot Act passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, are supposed to be used exclusively for national security purposes and are sent without judicial review. Recipients are barred from disclosing anything about them.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sided with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a lawsuit brought on behalf of an unidentified telecommunications company, ruling the letters violate free speech rights. She said the government failed to show the letters and the blanket non-disclosure policy “serve the compelling need of national security” and the gag order creates “too large a danger that speech is being unnecessarily restricted.”

She put that ruling on hold while the government appeals to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the latest case, Illston sided with the FBI after Google contested the constitutionality and necessity of the letters but again put her ruling on hold until the 9th Circuit rules. After receiving sworn statements from two top-ranking FBI officials, Illston said she was satisfied that 17 of the 19 letters were issued properly. She wanted more information on two other letters.

It was unclear from the judge’s ruling what type of information the government sought to obtain with the letters. It was also unclear who the government was targeting.

Kurt Opsah, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he was “disappointed that the same judge who declared these letters unconstitutional is now requiring compliance with them.”

Illston’s May 20 order omits any mention of Google or that the proceedings were closed to the public. But the judge said “the petitioner” was involved in a similar case filed on April 22 in New York federal court.

Public records obtained Friday by The Associated Press show that on that same day, the federal government filed a “petition to enforce National Security Letter” against Google after the company declined to cooperate with government demands.

Neither Google nor the FBI would comment.

The letters issued by the FBI can be used to collect unlimited kinds of private information, such as financial and phone records. The FBI sent 16,511 letters requests for information regarding 7,201 people in 2011, the latest data available.

Critics contend the government is overly zealous in using the letters, unnecessarily infringing on privacy rights of American citizens. In 2007, the Justice Department’s inspector general found widespread violations by the FBI, including sending demands without proper authorization. The FBI has since tightened oversight of the system.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal anti-hacking prosecutions reined in by appeals court ruling

April 11, 2012

MercuryNews.com on April 10, 2012 released the following:

“By Howard Mintz

Warning that merely looking up sports scores or online dating services at work could lead to a prison cell, a federal appeals court on Tuesday reined in the federal government’s power to prosecute employees who stray from their bosses’ rules on using company computers.

In a case against a Danville man, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the Justice Department had gone too far in enforcing a nearly 30-year-old computer hacking law, expressing concern that on-the-job “minor dalliances” with Facebook and Google “would become federal crimes.”

The 9th Circuit, in its 9-to-2 ruling, limited the scope of the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, saying it cannot be used to prosecute someone simply for the unauthorized use of information on their workplace computers. The decision sets up a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court because federal courts around the country have ruled otherwise.

The case has been closely watched by digital civil liberties groups, which have warned that prosecutors can bring criminal charges for violating routine corporate rules on the use of work computers. Redwood City-based Oracle, however, sided with the government in the appeal, saying in court papers that the anti-hacking law may be needed to punish employees who steal inside information.

But the court majority clearly was concerned that a heavy hand could slap cuffs on minor offenders.

“Minds have wandered since the beginning of time and the computer gives employees new ways to procrastinate, by g-chatting with friends, playing games, shopping or watching sports highlights,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. “Basing criminal liability on violations of private computer use policies can transform whole categories of otherwise innocuous behavior into federal crimes simply because a computer is involved.”

The case centered on the prosecution of David Nosal, an executive at Korn/Ferry International, a San Francisco corporate recruiting firm. Federal prosecutors alleged that Nosal and co-workers illegally foraged in the company’s database for information to establish a rival company and charged him with trade secrets theft and violations of the anti-hacking law.

Even with the 9th Circuit ruling, several charges remain against Nosal, including the trade secrets allegations. But the charges of unauthorized use of a computer under the anti-hacking law became the focus of the 9th Circuit legal showdown.

Nosal’s lawyers, backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued that employees should not face criminal prosecution under anti-hacking statutes when they have a right to use their company computers, but violate corporate policy on the type of information accessed on those computers. They insisted such a broad reading of the law could expose employees to criminal investigations for routine violations of corporate policies.

Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and expert on the statute, said the 9th Circuit got it right.

“What Kozinski is saying is that under the government’s view, most people are criminals,” Kerr said. “It’s an important victory for Internet rights. It limits the power of the government to prosecute people for innocent activity.”

The Justice Department declined to comment. But government lawyers argued in the appeal that Nosal was prosecuted only because he was accused of using his workplace computer to steal his employer’s secrets. They denied a wider threat of prosecuting people for surfing the Web at work.

Two 9th Circuit judges agreed, dissenting from the ruling.

“This case has nothing to do with playing sudoku, checking email, fibbing on dating sites or any of the other activities the majority rightly values,” Judge Barry Silverman wrote Tuesday.

“It has everything to do with stealing an employer’s valuable information to set up a competing business with the purloined data, siphoned away from the victim, knowing such access and use were prohibited.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.