Fourth Amendment: Pen registers for IP addresses are not constitutionally different from phone pen registers and as such are governed by Smith v. Maryland.
Edward Soybel was charged under 18 U.S.C § 1030 with twelve counts of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for initiating cyber-attacks against his former employer. To confirm that Soybel was the perpetrator of the attacks, the FBI sought a court order under the Pen Register Act to monitor his internet traffic. Soybel filed a motion to suppress the evidence and fruits derived from this order, and the district court denied it. Thereafter, a jury convicted him on all charges, and he appealed.
Reviewing the issue de novo, the Seventh Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling that Soybel’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. Pen registers that identify visited IP addresses are not meaningfully different than those that identify called phone numbers, and thus, under Smith v. Maryland, they do not constitute a search and do not necessitate a warrant.
Appeal from the Northern District of Illinois
Opinion by Sykes, joined by Bauer and St. Eve
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