Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Just so you know: Pager message are not super secret

New York Newsday is reporting that there is great surprise that the New York Police were able to subpoena pager messages in connection with a money laundering and drugs investigation: New York City - Crime.

Why is this a surprise? I'm not a New York lawyer or particularly knowledgeable about the US Bill of Rights, but it seems clear that (i) if it exists, (ii) is relevant and (iii) is not privileged, it can be compelled. Period. This applies to surveillance tapes, computer logs, computer hard-drives, Blackberry PIN messages, diaries, e-mail, blog entries, paintings and (this is untested) engraved stone tablets.

If there is any surprise, it should be that the paging company hangs onto data long enough that it can hand 150,000 messages to the police when they show up with a warrant.

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