DOES A WEBSITE HASH VALUE SEARCH CONSTITUTE A SEARCH FOR FOURTH AMENDEMENT PURPOSES?

United States v. Crist, Crim. No. 1:07-cr-211 (M.D. Pa, Oct. 22, 2008), concerned a criminal investigation of computer files conducted by means of a hash value analysis. The court ruled that a hash value analysis is a “search” for the purposes of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment.

The following questions have been addressed in this article:

On what basis did the authorities search the defendant’s hard drive without a warrant?
Why did the court rule that a hash analysis is a form of a search?
Did Hipple's examination of a few files void Crist's privacy interest in the rest of the computer hard drive?

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