Media Quote Michael Vatis on DreamHost/DOJ Battle

August 28, 2017

Steptoe partner Michael Vatis was quoted throughout an August 25 article in Legaltech News titled “What the DreamHost/DOJ Battle Says About Search Warrants in the Digital Age.” The article discusses how a battle over a Department of Justice (DOJ) search warrant highlights the ongoing struggles to define the scope of search warrants and First and Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age.

At contention in the DreamHost fracas is what is commonly known as the “two-step approach,” a process whereby authorities, enabled by a search warrant, obtain access to a physical or digital container of information, such as a house with paper files or a server with digital data, and review and legally seize information pertinent to an investigation. Under the two-step approach, the legal seizure only occurs after authorities have access to a larger set of data. Such an approach usually is relied on when authorities do not know exactly what evidence they are looking for, but have reason to believe relevant information is in a certain physical or digital location.

While commonly employed, Mr. Vatis says the process is not without controversy, especially when applied to a digital search.

“What’s really different about digital searches is that the amount of information that can be found on a computer or an email account is much greater, which greatly increases the risk that the government is rummaging through a lot of irrelevant material, far more than is the case with the searches of a house or some other physical location,” he says.

The full article can be read at Legaltech News (subscription required). 

Mr. Vatis was also quoted on this topic in an August 30 article in Bigger Law Firm