The guidelines were issued in July, 1994, and have been circulated since then within the federal law enforcement community. They were obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Privacy Information Center of Washington DC. Anyone who owns a computer and is politically active should be aware of the guidelines because they give an insight into the investigative means used to seize computers. We aren't going to discuss the guidelines in detail because they affect such a limited number of our readers, but we think it important that people know the guidelines are available.
Recognizing the sophistication of some computer users, the guidelines suggest obtaining computer experts before computers or data are seized. It states that informants, mail covers and other techniques should be used, before the items are seized, to determine the experts needed. It gives the legal guidelines applicable to searches and search warrants. Including an extensive discussion of consent searches and who can give consent, i.e. spouses, parents, employers, network system administrators, etc. It then goes into the specifics of seizing information, going after networks and bulletin boards, etc. For a copy of the guidelines contact the Bureau of National Affairs at 1 -800-255-813 l, l231 25th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20037 and ask for The Federal Guidelines for Searching and Seizing Computers.
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