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New Jersey Constitution Requires Subpoena for Subscriber Information from ISP:
The New Jersey Supreme Court has long interpreted the state constitution as going beyond the federal Constitution, and today the Court held that the New Jersey Constitution's version of the Fourth Amendment protects basic subscriber information (name, address, etc.) from an Internet Service Provider. The case is State v. Reid, and it involves an effort to compel Comcast to disclose what subscriber was assigned a particular IP address that was the source of an alleged computer intrusion.

  I have two reactions. First, this decision doesn't matter much. After concluding that basic subscriber information is protected by the state constitution, the Court then concludes that a mere relevance subpoena is sufficient to respect the privacy interest. So no warrant is required, and no probable cause is required. That's where the real action is in this area, so the stakes of the Reid case end up being very low. Second, in a forthcoming article in the Michigan Law Review, I explain why I think reasoning such as the New Jersey Court's is conceptually flawed: In a nutshell, it misses the fact that addressing information in the online context is the virtual equivalent of public information such as physical location in the traditional physical setting. But the New Jersey Court's conclusion that a mere subpoena is enough makes this objection quite minor.

  UPDATE: I rewrote the post after realizing I had initially misread the Court's decision.
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