Privacy

No Warrant Needed for Utility Records

If they're required for a drug investigation, utilities must surrender details of your power usage, says federal court

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Utilities must hand over customer records — which include credit card numbers, phone numbers and power consumption data — to the authorities without court warrants if drug agents believe they are "relevant" to an investigation, a federal appeals court says.

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 allows the authorities to make demands for that data in the form of an administrative subpoena, with no judicial oversight. In this instance, the Drug Enforcement Administration sought the records of three Golden Valley Electric Association customers in Fairbanks, Alaska suspected of growing marijuana indoors.