NSA and Surveillance

Louisville Student Chapter Friday, November 04, 12:00 PMLouisville, KY 40208


  • Professor Russell Weaver, Louisville Law
  • Professor Ron Krotoszynski, Alabama Law
  • Professor Andy Wright, Savannah Law

Searching: The Limits of Warrants Under ECPA - Podcast

Litigation and Criminal Law Practice Group Podcast
Jamil N. Jaffer, Jeffrey M. Harris August 09, 2016

The case of In the Matter of a Warrant to Search a Certain E-mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corporation stems from Microsoft's refusal to comply with a search warrant, which would have required Microsoft to hand over the contents of e-mails stored on a server in Ireland, but accessible from the company's U.S. headquarters. The U.S. government had applied for the warrant under Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Reversing a lower court decision in favor of the government, the Second Circuit ruled that ECPA warrants did not have extraterritorial effect without express Congressional authorization.

Were the Second Circuit and Microsoft correct? Or was the government, which had contended that the data would be seized in the U.S rather than where it was stored, and therefore the warrant would not be exercised extraterritorially? Is the case a win for the protection of privacy? Will it help protect the relationships and agreements of U.S. entities with foreign nations? Will it be a huge burden to force the government to use the mutual legal assistance process when a provider opts to store the data at issue outside the U.S.?


  • Jeffrey M. Harris, Partner, Bancroft PLLC
  • Prof. Jamil N. Jaffer, Adjunct Professor of Law and Director, Homeland and National Security Law Program, George Mason University School of Law and former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Privacy and Cell-Site Simulators - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
Howard W. Cox, Brian L. Owsley July 20, 2016

Cell-site simulators are devices used by law enforcement. In response to the signals emitted by a cell-site simulator, cellular devices in the proximity identify the simulator as the most attractive cell tower in the area and transmit signals to the simulator that identify the device. Using these simulators, investigators can locate cellular devices whose unique identifiers are already known to law enforcement, or determine the unique identifiers of an unknown device by collecting limited signaling information from devices in the simulator user’s vicinity.

It has been a subject of debate whether the use of cell-site simulators by the government requires a warrant supported by probable cause. In September 2015, the Justice Department released a policy requiring federal investigators to obtain a warrant prior to employing a simulator, except under exceptional circumstances.

Is there a Fourth Amendment reasonable expectation of privacy in the data collected by cell-site simulators? Who is in the best position to establish limits in this area (if any), Congress or the courts? Should investigators be permitted to use simulators, even with a warrant?


  • Howard W. Cox, Adjunct Professor, George Washington University
  • Prof. Brian L. Owsley, Assistant Professor of Law, UNT Dallas College of Law