M.C. Sungaila in Law360: Justices Boost Corporate Data Rights In Hotel Records Case


The U.S Supreme Court on Monday empowered companies to protect customer records from government searches, ruling that only a small number of industries intrinsically dangerous to the public are subject to a warrantless examination of their business records.

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the high court upheld a Ninth Circuit decision that struck down a Los Angeles law that enabled law enforcement officers to drop in unannounced at motels and hotels to inspect guest registries at any time, without a warrant or a subpoena…

Monday’s ruling means that businesses will be better able to protect their customers’ information from government searches, Eric Miller, partner at Perkins Coie said. The Supreme Court held that a hotel owner must have the opportunity for judicial review of an officer’s demand to search the registry before facing penalties for not complying. Under the Los Angeles law, hotel owners could have been arrested on the spot if they refused a search…

“The five-justice majority and four dissenting justices posit very different views of both the Fourth Amendment and the law in question: where the majority sees the opportunity for the city to inspect hotel records without required precompliance review as an opening for police abuse, the dissent sees an unnecessary added layer of review that would thwart a much needed tool for criminal investigations of prostitution and trafficking,” M.C. Sungaila, partner in Haynes and Boone LLP’s appellate practice, noted.

Excerpted from Law360. To read the full article, click here (subscription required).

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