Warrant needed to snoop on your emails, court finally rules

By Daniel Tencer
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 -- 7:46 pm

After many years of legal uncertainty, a federal appeals court has finally declared that emails have the same Fourth Amendment protections as regular mail and telephone calls.

"Given the fundamental similarities between email and traditional forms of communication, it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection," the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF).

If the ruling is not overturned by the Supreme Court, it will put an end to the practice of law enforcement agents using court orders, rather than warrants, to gain access to emails. Court orders require a much lower standard than warrants.

Kevin Bankston of the digital rights group EFF told Wired.com he expects Internet service providers will comply with the ruling, meaning they will start requesting warrants when law enforcement requests access to emails.

Privacy advocates say law enforcement has been using a loophole in the 1986 Stored Communications Act to get emails without a warrant. Under that law, information stored on servers is subject only to a court order.

As Wired notes, the law was written at a time when emails -- then still a novelty -- weren't stored on remote servers. But today's email services, such as Hotmail and Gmail, use servers to store all emails, giving law enforcement warrantless access.

A group of businesses, including Microsoft, Google and AOL, have been lobbying the US to update its laws so that all emails require a warrant.

At issue in the Sixth Circuit's ruling was the criminal case of Steven Warshak, founder of the company that sells Enzyte "male enhancement" pills. Warshak was given a 25-year sentence in 2008 after being convicted of 93 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

Warshak appealed the ruling, saying his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when investigators failed to obtain a warrant for his emails. In its ruling Tuesday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Warshak and effectively declared parts of the Stored Communications Act to be unconstitutional.

However, the court also said that law enforcement agents "acted in good faith" in using the Stored Communications Act to obtain the emails, so it will not vacate Warshak's conviction. ZDNet reports that he may see a lesser sentence as a result.

"Today's decision is the only federal appellate decision currently on the books that squarely rules on this critically important privacy issue, an issue made all the more important by the fact that current federal law ... allows the government to secretly obtain emails without a warrant in many situations," the EFF said in a statement.

"We hope that this ruling will spur Congress to update that law ... so that when the government secretly demands someone's email without probable cause, the email provider can confidently say: 'Come back with a warrant.'"


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Get Raw Story updates!
Email:

Views: 85

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

That is good news if it is local law enforcement that has an interest in reading them but the fact of the matter is that a rubber stamped FISA warrant still works for anything the feds want to do.

Fourth amendment protection is really irrelevant when we still have an existing court that will grant a warrant based on you farting in a government building while complaining about the long line.....After all, you might have been trying to kill people with a gas attack......And that, by God, is terrorism!!!!

yep

RSS

"Destroying the New World Order"

TOP CONTENT THIS WEEK

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE SITE!

mobile page

12160.info/m

12160 Administrators

Doc Vega, Chris of the family Masters, cheeki kea and 3 more were featured

 

Latest Activity

Less Prone favorited Parrhesia's discussion Three more countries set to join BRICS - official
59 seconds ago
Parrhesia posted photos
10 minutes ago
cheeki kea commented on Parrhesia's photo
Thumbnail

Truth Out Of Ukraine

"You're right also Parrhesia the hero reporters risk their lives to find out the real facts and…"
1 hour ago
rlionhearted_3 commented on Parrhesia's photo
Thumbnail

Truth Out Of Ukraine

"Prancing faggot for sure!"
1 hour ago
cheeki kea commented on Parrhesia's photo
Thumbnail

Truth Out Of Ukraine

"Well you heard right steve I was shocked how Polands spokes puppet so casually and straight up…"
2 hours ago
Burbia commented on tjdavis's photo
5 hours ago
Burbia commented on tjdavis's video
Thumbnail

Biden "Everybody under 15, come here"

"‘She was 12, I was 30’: Biden leaves viewers stunned in teachers speech By Steven…"
5 hours ago
tjdavis posted photos
5 hours ago
tjdavis favorited Sandy's video
6 hours ago
tjdavis favorited Parrhesia's discussion Three more countries set to join BRICS - official
7 hours ago
tjdavis posted a blog post
7 hours ago
Parrhesia posted discussions
8 hours ago
tjdavis posted videos
14 hours ago
Parrhesia commented on Parrhesia's photo
16 hours ago
Parrhesia commented on tjdavis's video
16 hours ago
tjdavis favorited Parrhesia's video
18 hours ago
Doc Vega replied to MAC's discussion CA Legalizes Human Composting to Fight 'Climate Change'
"Correction Gavin Newsome is such a douche! "
18 hours ago
Doc Vega replied to MAC's discussion CA Legalizes Human Composting to Fight 'Climate Change'
"Gavin Newsome is such a doush! "
18 hours ago
Doc Vega replied to MAC's discussion CA Legalizes Human Composting to Fight 'Climate Change'
"I'm wondering if they could twist this perverted legislation into living human…"
18 hours ago
Doc Vega replied to Parrhesia's discussion RUSSIA RESPONDS TO AMERICA’S PLAN TO WIN WW III
"I can't see the US going into a First Strike Phase yet Operation Northwoods was a pretty…"
18 hours ago

© 2022   Created by truth.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

content and site copyright 12160.info 2007-2019 - all rights reserved. unless otherwise noted