Question from Mat, Can an Anonymous Tip Trigger an Emergency Disclosure Request?
Answer from AI:
When law enforcement agencies receive an anonymous tip about a potential future terrorist attack, they must assess the credibility and specificity of the information before taking action. In the United States, the standard for triggering an emergency disclosure request (EDR) is based on a reasonable belief that an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay.
Assessing the Credibility of an Anonymous Tip
- Specificity of the Threat: A tip that provides specific details about the nature, location, and timing of a potential attack is more likely to be considered credible than a vague or general warning.
- Corroborating Evidence: Law enforcement will attempt to corroborate the tip with other intelligence or information. Even if the tip is anonymous, other sources of information may support the credibility of the threat.
- Source Reliability: If the anonymous source has provided reliable information in the past, this may lend credibility to the tip.
- Context and Plausibility: The context of the threat and its plausibility based on current events or known terrorist activities may also affect the assessment.
Legal Framework for Emergency Disclosure Requests
In the context of electronic communications, the Stored Communications Act (SCA) allows service providers to disclose information without a user’s consent if there is an imminent threat to life or serious physical injury. The relevant provision is found in 18 U.S.C. § 2702(b)(8) and § 2702(c)(4).
Steps Law Enforcement May Take
- Assess the credibility of the anonymous tip according to the factors mentioned above.
- Attempt to corroborate the information with other intelligence sources.
- If the threat is deemed credible and specific, law enforcement may issue an EDR to service providers for relevant information.
- Service providers will review the EDR and decide whether to comply based on their own assessment and legal obligations.
When Legal Advice May Be Necessary
If you are a service provider who has received an EDR, or if you are an individual whose information may be disclosed as part of an EDR, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional. A lawyer can provide personalized advice on how to proceed, taking into account the specific circumstances and legal obligations.
For more information on the legal framework surrounding emergency disclosures, you can refer to the text of the Stored Communications Act.
In conclusion, while an anonymous tip alone may not always be sufficient to trigger an EDR, if it is deemed credible and presents a specific, imminent threat, it may justify such a request. Law enforcement agencies must balance the need to prevent harm with the rights of individuals and follow legal procedures when responding to potential threats.