In 2015 in United States v. Lichtenberger, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that police violated the Fourth Amendment by exceeding the scope of a private search of computer files. This decision deviated from holdings of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, which held that under the private search doctrine, police could more thoroughly search digital devices that were previously searched by a private party. The Sixth Circuit created a circuit split by failing to apply the closed container approach to the digital storage devices in Lichtenberger. This Comment argues that the closed container approach should not be applied to searches of digital devices under the private search doctrine. This Comment also argues that the Sixth Circuit correctly adopted the “virtual certainty” test of scope, but failed to properly apply the test to the facts in Lichtenberger.
Stephen Labrecque, "Virtual Certainty" in a Digital World: The Sixth Circuit's Application of the Private Search Doctrine to Digital Storage Devices in United States v. Lichtenberger, 57 B.C. L. Rev. E. Supp. 177 (2016), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol57/iss6/11