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The Internet is a global network of computers and other electronic devices that communicate with each other via standard telephone lines, high-speed telecommunications links (e.g., fiber optic cable), and wireless transmissions. Due to the structure of the Internet, connections between devices on the Internet often cross state and international borders, even when the devices communicating with each other are in the same state. ISPs maintain records pertaining to the individuals or companies that have subscriber accounts with it. Those records could include identifying and billing information, account access information in the form of log files, e-mail transaction information, posting information, account application information, and other information both in computer data format and in written record format. ISPs reserve and/or maintain computer disk storage space on their computer system for the use of the Internet service subscriber for both temporary and long-term storage of electronic communications with other parties and other types of electronic data and files. E-mail that has not been opened is stored temporarily by an ISP incident to the transmission of the e-mail to the intended recipient, usually within an area known as the home directory. Such temporary, incidental storage is defined by statute as "electronic storage," and the provider of such a service is an "electronic communications service" provider. A service provider that is available to the public and provides storage facilities after an electronic communication has been transmitted and opened by the recipient, or provides other long term storage services to the public for electronic data and files, is providing a "remote computing service." Log files are computer files that contain records about system events and status, the activities of users, and anomalous or unauthorized computer usage. Names for various log files include, but are not limited to: user logs, access logs, audit logs, transactional logs, and apache logs. A router is a device on the Internet that facilitates communication. Each Internet router maintains a table that states the next step a communication must take on its path to its proper destination. When a router receives a transmission, it checks the transmission's destination IP address with addresses in its table, and directs the communication to another router or the destination computer. The log file and memory of a router often contain important information that can help reveal the source and network path of communications. Virus Based on your affiant's knowledge, training, and experience, your affiant knows that computer files or remnants of such files can be recovered months or even years after they have been downloaded onto a hard drive, deleted or viewed via the Internet. Electronic files downloaded to a hard drive can be stored for years at little or no cost. Even when such files have been deleted, they can be recovered months or years later using readily-available forensics tools. When a person "deletes" a file on a home computer, the data contained in the file does not actually disappear; rather, that data remains on the hard drive until it is overwritten by new data. Therefore, deleted files, or remnants of deleted files, may reside in free space or slack space - that is, in space on the hard drive that is not allocated to an active file or that is unused after a file has been allocated to a set block of storage space - for long periods of time before they are overwritten. In addition, a computer's operating system may also keep a record of deleted data in a "swap" or "recovery" file. Similarly, files that have been viewed via the Internet are automatically downloaded into a temporary Internet directory or "cache." The browser typically maintains a fixed amount of hard drive space devoted to these files, and the files are only overwritten as they are replaced with more recently viewed Internet pages. Thus, the ability to retrieve residue of an electronic file from a hard drive depends less on when the file was downloaded or viewed than on a particular user's operating system, storage capacity, and computer habits.
If applicable, the affidavit should explain why probable cause exists to believe that the tangible computer items are themselves contraband, evidence, instrumentalities, or fruits of the crime, independent of the information they may hold.
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