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In a convict’s constitutional challenge to a search warrant requiring his Internet provider to identify him as the holder of his assigned Internet Protocol (IP) address, a California Court of Appeal has found that a “subscriber has no expectation of privacy in the subscriber information he supplies to his Internet provider”.  The court reasoned from U.S. Supreme Court authority finding no customer privacy interest in telephone usage, and more recent authority from the Ninth Circuit and several other federal circuits uniformly holding “that subscriber information provided to an internet provider is not protected by the Fourth Amendment privacy expectation.”  The court also held that California Evidence Code procedures are consistent with the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which sets forth procedures for obtaining subscriber information from Internet service providers, such as the cable television operator which was the recipient of the government’s search warrant in this case.  The court also observes federal Ninth Circuit precedent that “E-mail and Internet users have no expectation of privacy in the to-from addresses of their messages or the IP addresses of the websites they visit because they should know that this information is provided to and used by Internet service providers for the specific purpose of directing the routing of information” between users.  (People v. Stipo, California Court of Appeal No. B218512, May 16, 2011)

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