Police can search your BitTorrent files without a warrant, judge rules

Source: AP
Source: AP

A court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ruled on Thursday that authorities can search an individual's files on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks without a warrant, reports Motherboard. According to Judge John W. deGravelles, making files publicly available means a person cannot expect privacy.

The case at the United States District Court for the Middle District in Baton Rouge involves Justin Landry of Prairieville, who allegedly used BitTorrent to disperse child pornography. Police cracked down on Landry, 36, in 2015 using Torrential Downpour — a software that is sold exclusively to law enforcement — in an undercover operation where he shared explicit images with a Plaquemines Parish detective.

Landry requested the evidence retrieved from the network be suppressed, as the undercover official did not have a warrant to go through his BitTorrent shared folder. In Judge deGravelles' ruling, it was established that the official involved in the case did not need a warrant to go through Landry's BitTorrent files. Since Landry was sharing the files publicly in a shared folder, the judge deemed Landry's shared files to not be protected by the 4th Amendment.

"Files which an individual voluntarily places in a shared folder on a peer-to-peer network are considered publicly available," Judge deGravelles wrote in the ruling.

At the time of his arrest, Landry admitted to searching for and downloading child pornography and a "fetish for infants engaged in sexual intercourse." He has been accused of five counts of possessing and distributing child pornography. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years for each count.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

MORE FROM

When cops kill, paying their victims' families can be a cold, calculating process, attorneys say

Black lives are often seen as having less monetary value in the eyes of the law.

Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17-year-old transgender girl, killed in Georgia

Barrin, 17, wanted to be a model.

Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol destroyed

The suspect appears to have broadcast the crash on Facebook Live.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care vote, Charges in Laquan McDonald shooting, U.S. image

The important stories to get you caught up for Wednesday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

Iran calls Supreme Court's travel ban decision "racist" and "unfair"

Iranian officials criticized Trump's de-facto Muslim ban this week.

When cops kill, paying their victims' families can be a cold, calculating process, attorneys say

Black lives are often seen as having less monetary value in the eyes of the law.

Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17-year-old transgender girl, killed in Georgia

Barrin, 17, wanted to be a model.

Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol destroyed

The suspect appears to have broadcast the crash on Facebook Live.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Health care vote, Charges in Laquan McDonald shooting, U.S. image

The important stories to get you caught up for Wednesday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

Iran calls Supreme Court's travel ban decision "racist" and "unfair"

Iranian officials criticized Trump's de-facto Muslim ban this week.