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Feds can search and seize your P2P files, without a warrant

In a ruling last week, authorities don’t need a search warrant to search and seize your peer-to-peer (P2P) files, says a Nevada court.  In last weeks ruling of United States vs. Borowy (.PDF), where an FBI agent downloaded seven files, four of which contained child pornography, from the defendant, using LimeWire, according to wired.com.

Borowy said he enabled a feature that disables sharing of his files, but for some reason, the FBI agent was able to access approximately 240 files.  Four of the seven files downloaded by the FBI agent contained child pornography, all done so without a search warrant.  The agent used the “browse host” feature in LimeWire, where a user can search by someone's IP to access their shared files.

The court noted that Borowy “was clearly aware that LimeWire was a file-sharing program that would allow the public at large to access files in his shared folder unless he took steps to avoid it.”

Agents were able to find the images while searching for red-flagged words, using proprietary software that verifies hash marks of files, in this case “Lolitaguy” which is a common search term related to child pornography.  Upon a full search warrant investigation, forensic investigators found over 600 images and 75 videos containing child pornography.

Borowy was sentenced to 45 months in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. 

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