SW Legal studies in Business

Grand Jury Subpoena Required to Obtain Information from ISP about Subscriber
Description New Jersey high court held that a municipal court subpoena did not sufficiently protect the privacy interests of an Internet service subscriber. To obtain records of the subscriber from the ISP, a grand jury subpoena must be obtained by authorities.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Evidence; Computer Theft; Subpoena; ISP
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Reid logged onto an Internet website from her home computer. The site belonged to a company that supplied material to Reid’s employer. When on the website, she changed her employer’s password and shipping address to a non-existent address. The supplier’s website captured her IP address and told her employer what she did. The employer turned the matter over to the authorities. The police obtained a municipal court subpoena to Comcast, Reid’s service provider. Comcast confirmed that the IP address belonged to Reid. She was indicted for second-degree computer theft. She moved to suppress the information obtained by the subpoena used with Comcast. The district court and appeals court agreed that the subpoena was improper. The state appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. A person has a privacy interest in the subscriber information provided to an ISP. The state may not use evidence obtained unlawfully by the police; such evidence must be suppressed. The proper method that should have been used was a grand jury subpoena based on a relevancy standard, not a municipal court subpoena. The state can reacquire the evidence by means of a grand jury subpoena.

Citation State v. Reid, ---A.2d--- (2008 WL 1774969, Sup. Ct., N.J., 2008)

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