Critical Orders from the DC District Court about Internet History and Location

According to The Washington Post, DC District Court released new data showing a significant increase in sealed orders that demanded internet data. This was an increase by seven times over the past three years. The orders requested carrier’s historical cell site data, particularly the record of the cell providers showing the location o the user’s phones. Additionally, the orders requested for the records of the broadband providers that showed connections of internet among users. Further, the connection data was helpful in deducing the date, time, and size of an instant message or an email as well as the recipient and the correspondent.

The connection data would not demand communication content such as the recording of received data or a call received from any website. However, the broadband providers could provide a physical location for an individual and his/her online activities on different platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

How to Access the Orders

The orders are confidentially kept under seal because of their legal precedent. Therefore, prosecutors do not need a legal search warrant to obtain the files. However, they are allowed to access the orders after showing their superiors that the files are vital for an ongoing investigation. Moreover, the Department of Justice and the US Attorney have the right to reveal the disclosed requests made by prosecutors within the Washington, DC area. There are also similar orders that are excluded from the current national statistics.

The new data was publicized by Jason Leopold, a renowned BuzzFeed reporter, following an extended court fight of a cased that was filed in 2013. In 2017, the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press filed the same case to back Jason. Further, the case involved a request to unseal similar orders that were indirectly related to an ongoing case, which is strongly opposed by the government.