EPIC Urges California Supreme Court to Decide Case About Proprietary Google Algorithm

December 7, 2020

EPIC has filed an amicus letter urging the California Supreme Court to decide whether the government's reliance on evidence Google automatically reported to authorities using a proprietary algorithm violates the Fourth Amendment. EPIC warned that the government has not presented any evidence about the accuracy or reliability of the algorithm, which are essential elements of the Fourth Amendment analysis. EPIC told the California Supreme Court that the "Government must present evidence about Google's algorithm, not other, unrelated" algorithms. EPIC has filed amicus briefs in the federal case against the defendant, currently before the Ninth Circuit, and in a similar Sixth Circuit case. Last week, the Sixth Circuit followed other federal courts in erroneously equating Google's algorithm with non-proprietary and well tested methods for authenticating files. In contrast, a judge on the Ninth Circuit panel told the government attorney during oral argument that he "would like to hear your defense of the evidentiary record" because the record only contained "this declaration from the Google person," and he "would need far more explanation of how reliable the hash matching technology is before I could validate this search." EPIC routinely files amicus briefs in cases concerning the Fourth Amendment and new technology.

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