Albert Gidari, partner at the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie LLP and noted for his activity in telecommunications law, jumped all over the Patriot Act when it was passed by Congress in late October.
Gidari then issued an advisory Oct. 26 to service provider clients that covered pen register authority, named for the device originally placed on a network to trace calls back to their origin. When applied to e-mail, however, it obtains more than just the address of the source.
"Section 216 [of the Patriot Act] amends the pen register statute to make it clear that Internet communications are subject to pen register authority," Gidari wrote in his advisory. The enforcement agency may acquire "routing and addressing" information in addition to "dialing and signaling" information. The addressing information may include who is copied on the message as well as its intended recipient, according to experts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The pen register amendment also allows federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a single pen register order that may be implemented anywhere in the country. "No longer will the service provider need to be named expressly in the order," Gidari advised, nor will the carrier need to ensure that the information acquired had been intended for delivery within a particular federal courts jurisdiction.
The amendment "makes it easier for a service provider to comply with law enforcement requests for surveillance or customer information," Gidari wrote. The amendment either "maintains or expands the service providers immunity for acting in accordance with lawful process," he advised.