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Federal Prosecutors Drop Criminal Case Based on Evidence Seized from Laptop

Federal prosecutors have dropped a criminal case against Jae Shik Kim, a Korean businessman, who was charged with violating economic sanctions based on evidence seized from his laptop. On August 11, 2015, prosecutors told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that they would not pursue the criminal case or challenge an order U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson made in May ruling that the evidence, seized without a warrant at the Los Angeles airport, could not be used.

Judge Jackson had noted, “Given the vast storage capacity of even the most basic laptops, and the capacity of computers to retain metadata and even deleted material, one cannot treat an electronic storage device like a handbag simply because you can put things in it and then carry it onto a plane.” Jeff Ifrah, one of Kim’s lawyers, speculated that the federal government didn’t appeal the decision because it “could have resulted in some bad precedent about the type of searches that are going on every day at airports. I think they don’t want to be responsible for having a circuit court of appeals rule that those searches are illegal.” He called the case “clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

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