People in NJ have Right of Privacy in Internet Subscriber Info – State v. Reid

This morning, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that our State Constitution provides people in New Jersey with a right of privacy related to the subscriber information they provide to their internet service providers. As a result of this privacy interest, state and municipal law enforcement agencies that seek this information must do so in a reasonable manner. This can be lawfully accomplished through the issuance of a grand jury subpoena. Moreover, the target of the grand jury investigation need not be informed that his internet records have been sought and obtained through this method.

In this morning’s case, State v. Reid, the police utilized an improperly issued municipal court subpoena duces tecum in order to obtain subscriber information related to a criminal suspect from the internet service provider, Comcast. The Supreme Court held that this procedure was unconstitutional in that it violated the suspect’s privacy interest in her subscriber information. Accordingly, the evidence obtained must be suppressed and the resulting indictment will probably be dismissed. However, the Court went on to hold that the information sought by the police in this case can still be obtained through the use of a properly issued a grand jury subpoena, which may result in a new indictment for the defendant.

Download a copy of State v. Reid.

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