A New Zealand court has declared the raids on Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom to have been illegal. Judge Helen Winkelmann says that when the U.S. government seized much of his property, including large quantities of data from his computers, the warrant was insufficiently detailed.
According to Judge Winkelmann, a search warrant must be framed with as much specificity as permissible. She says “it defines the extent of the authority to search and seize” as well as “informs the person or persons searching of the parameters of the Police’s authority to search and seize goods.”
The police had a search warrant, but it only mentioned his crimes as being “breach of copyright,” which was too broad for the court. She says that breach of contract could mean many things and is therefore, vague. She adds, “The failure to refer to the laws of the United States on the face of the warrants, would no doubt have caused confusion to the subjects of the searches.”
Dotcom is still waiting to hear on whether or not he’ll be extradited, but this ruling is one minor victory he can celebrate. What are the constitutional repercussions of allowing broad search warrants? Should they be so narrow that they handicap law enforcement?
For more information, see The Hollywood Reporter.