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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Problems with Search Warrants for IPhones

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge denied another search-and-seizure warrant application for an iPhone because the government can't explain how it will avoid snagging information falling outside the scope of the warrant.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola, who last week denied four applications for search-and-seizure warrants for child pornography, also denied the government's most recent request to search an iPhone 4S.

"Specifically, the government fails to articulate how it will limit the possibility that data outside the scope of the warrant will be searched," Facciola wrote in the ruling.

The warrant application involves the high-profile case against Daniel Milzman, a Georgetown University student suspected of creating ricin in his dorm room. Ricin, derived from the castor bean, is one of the most deadly poisons known.

Judge Facciola approved law enforcement officials' request to seize Milzman's iPhone, but the judge denied the warrant request for the information the device holds.

"Until the government actually explains how the search will proceed, and thus how the government intends to limit its search of data outside the scope of the warrant, this warrant cannot be issued," the judge wrote.

Warrant applications for four other electronic devices allegedly connected to a child pornography web forum in a separate case were denied last week for the same reason: Prosecutors couldn't explain how the devices would be searched so that information not pertinent to the case would be left alone.

Milzman, 19, was arrested in March after officials were tipped off and allegedly found ricin in his dorm room desk.

According to U.S. Chief Judge Richard Roberts, who ruled that Milzman must remain in jail pending trial, the student learned about the lethal substance from the television show "Breaking Bad."

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