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Judge: No expectation of privacy on internet

NORFOLK (AP) The search warrant investigators obtained before hacking a Newport News man’s computer during a child pornography sting was not only legal, authorities would have been within their rights to hack the computer without it, a federal judge has ruled.

Because computer hacking is commonplace and data about people’s online usage goes to internet providers already, 24-year-old Edward J. Matish did not have any “reasonable expectation of privacy” to his home computer, the Daily Press reported, citing last month’s ruling from U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr.

In a ruling that is garnering interest in legal circles nationally, Morgan denied requests by Matish’s lawyers to suppress the evidence in the case, saying assertions that the warrant was overly broad are irrelevant.

“The Government must be allowed to utilize its own advanced technology to keep pace with our world’s ever-advancing technology and novel criminal methods,” Morgan wrote in his 58-page ruling on June 23.

Matish was arrested in February 2015 during an investigation in which the FBI allowed a secret child porn website to continue operating for two weeks while it controlled its servers in order to try to identify thousands of users across the world.

Federal judges have ruled in other similar cases that warrants used by the FBI were overly broad and invalid. Because of the different rulings, the issue could be taken up by various federal appeals courts, and then perhaps by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Matish is charged with eight felony counts: four counts of accessing child pornography and four counts of receiving it. A trial is expected to take place on Oct. 25 in U.S. District Court in Newport News.


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