On Demand Audio

The Stored Communications Act: Current Practice and Calls for Reform

(372 reviews)

Produced on December 14, 2016

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$ 89 Criminal, Discovery & E-Discovery, and Science & Technology In Stock
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Course Information

Time 1h 1m
Difficulty Advanced

Course Description

The Fourth Amendment protects the right of the people to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”  In today’s digital world, however, our “papers and effects” are increasingly stored electronically – not in the home, but in the hands of webmail hosts, social networking sites, cloud services, and other third-party service providers.  The extent to which the Fourth Amendment’s protections follow our communications once we choose to store them with such third parties is not firmly established under the law.

The Stored Communications Act (SCA) was enacted thirty years ago to fill this protective gap, by providing extending statutory privacy protections for electronic data stored with electronic communications service providers.  The SCA restricts what information providers can share about their users and establishes requirements that law enforcement must meet in order to compel the production of user communications or account information.

This course covers the provisions of the SCA and how they work in practice, as well as recent controversies surrounding the statute and calls for its reform.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Understand the restrictions the SCA places on the ability of electronic communications service providers to share information about their users
  2. Understand the requirements that law enforcement must meet in order to obtain access to information protected by the statute
  3. Learn about recent litigation involving the SCA and legislative proposals to reform the statute

Credit Information

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Serrin Turner

Latham & Watkins LLP

Serrin Turner is a partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins and a member of the firm’s Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice, White Collar Defense & Government Investigations Practice, and Complex Commercial Litigation Practice.

A former federal prosecutor and experienced trial lawyer, Mr. Turner leverages his unique experience investigating complex cybercrime cases to represent clients in their most critical cybersecurity matters. He counsels corporations, financial institutions and asset managers concerning all aspects of cybersecurity preparedness and incident response, including:

  • Response to data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents
  • Compliance with cybersecurity regulatory requirements
  • Developing incident response plans and other security documentation
  • Cybersecurity due diligence in connection with corporate mergers and acquisitions
  • Liaison with law enforcement on cybercrime matters

Prior to joining Latham, Mr. Turner served for six years as an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he was the Office’s lead cybercrime prosecutor. In that role, Mr. Turner handled a wide range of cybercrime investigations and prosecutions, including matters involving computer hacking, data breaches, black-market websites, trafficking in stolen payment card and personal identity information, and money laundering through digital currencies.

Among other notable cases, Mr. Turner led the prosecution of the operator of the Silk Road website, a vast online black market for illegal drugs and other contraband, as well as a multi-billion-dollar money-laundering case against the Liberty Reserve digital currency service, which functioned as an underground bank for cybercriminals across the globe. Mr. Turner also handled high-profile data-privacy litigation at the US Attorney’s Office, including a leading email provider’s challenge to a search warrant for data stored overseas.

Prior to joining the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office, Mr. Turner held a number of other positions within the federal government, including serving as Counsel to the Executive Director for the Guantanamo Review Task Force in Washington, DC, where he helped lead a special task force created by President Obama to review detainees’ intelligence files and determine case dispositions. Previously, from 2005 to 2009, Mr. Turner was an Assistant US Attorney in the Civil Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he focused on matters involving national-security and foreign-relations issues. From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Turner was a Trial Attorney in the US Department of Justice’s Honors Program.

Mr. Turner served as law clerk for the Honorable Sandra Lynch, US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, from 2000 to 2001. He is a two-time recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Justice Department’s second-highest award, and received the 2004 John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation, the Justice Department's highest award for trial litigators.


Lisa O.

This was outstanding.

cindy m.

The speaker was outstanding. He is very accomplished in his area of expertise and conveys his points in a clear and concise manner. Thank you.

Vincent C.

Very well done

Rebekah D.

Thank you

Steven R.

Good summary.

James M.

Outstanding course - excellent, concise summary of a complex area of the law, and of pending controversies and reforms.

Janet B.


John C. T.

excellent in depth lecture

Susan M.

Serrin Turner was really informative. The info was very concerning but he did a very good job of presenting it.

Susan T.


Julie A. B.

Undoubtedly, most of Lawline’s viewers and listeners actively participate in today’s digital world and store data electronically (e.g., webmail hosts, social networking sites, cloud services, or other third-party service providers). Consequently, this engaging program hosted by a congenial speaker is worthy of exploration and critical to understanding the Stored Communications Act.

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