Emory Law Journal


Diana Benton


The Dark Net¿a virtual space for criminal activity unmoored from the traditional territorial boundaries that define courts¿ authority¿creates a jurisdictional dilemma. Law enforcement cannot locate anonymous Dark Net users without hacking into their computers, which requires a search warrant. Yet police cannot apply for a warrant without first knowing the computer¿s location, because a judge does not have the authority to issue a warrant that will be executed outside her jurisdiction. A judge cannot determine whether she has jurisdiction to issue a warrant when the location to be searched is undiscoverable without the very warrant itself. This Comment analyzes Fourth Amendment implications of searching unknown locations and recommends expanding statutory authority and procedural mechanisms to allow courts to issue warrants when the location to be searched is unknowable. This would further the constitutional preference for warrants without violating constitutional principles governing territorial limitations on courts¿ jurisdiction.