Arizona Supreme Court: Police may obtain internet users’ personal information

By Greta Forslund | Arizona Capitol Times 

An Arizona Supreme Court ruling January 11 allows police to obtain information about people’s internet activity and identity without first getting a search warrant, making it easier for the government to see what most consider to be private information about their online habits.

In an unusual 4-3 split decision, the majority said police may obtain internet users’ IP addresses and personal information they give their internet service providers using only subpoenas. Combined, this information can be used to uncover people’s identities, internet activities and otherwise-anonymous internet speeches.

The ruling stems from a 2016 Tucson Police Department child pornography investigation in which an undercover detective posted advertisements to an online forum asking for child pornography. 

After William Mixton responded with images and videos of child pornography, federal agents issued a subpoena for his IP address, followed by another subpoena to his internet provider, which generated his name, street address and phone number. A search warrant for Mixton’s residence uncovered his possession of child pornographic material.

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