Important Fourth Amendment Case Requires Government To Delete Non-Responsive Computer Files

A Fourth Amendment case in the Second Circuit Court (United States v. Ganias) has ruled that the government cannot “overseize” computer files pursuant to a warrant and that files that are non-responsive to the warrant must be destroyed, returned or deleted.


It has been previously held by courts that the government in pursuant of a warrant can seize computers and search the responsive files later. This ruling does not allow the government to keep the non-responsive files indefinitely.


According to an online article from Today’s General Counsel, “the ruling does not contain details on when the government must destroy, delete or return the non-responsive files, though it makes quite clear that not doing so puts the government in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”