Thursday, April 15, 2010

FBI Able to Read Emails Stored on Servers

Yahoo, Feds Battle over E-Mail Privacy

The legal dust-up, unsealed late Tuesday, concerns a 1986 law that already allows the government to obtain a suspect’s e-mail from an ISP or webmail provider without a probable-cause warrant, once it’s been stored for 180 days or more. The government now contends it can get e-mail under 180-days old if that e-mail has been read by the owner, and the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections don’t apply.

Yahoo is challenging the government’s position and defying a court order to turn over some customer e-mail to the feds. Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy & Technology and other groups late Tuesday told the federal judge presiding over the case that accessing e-mail under 180 days old requires a valid warrant under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of whether it has been read.

“The government says the Fourth Amendment does not protect these e-mails,” Kevin Bankston, an EFF lawyer, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “What we’re talking about is archives of our personal correspondence that they would need a warrant to get from your computer but not from the server.”

I learn something new every day. Sometimes, I wish I didn't.

Quick note to my fellow Threepers - if you're in the habit of keeping communications on a server such as GMail or Yahoo, Hotmail, etc, be aware that someone without a warrant might be watching.

Of course, none of you would put anything that might incriminate you into email now would you? OpSec and CommSec friends.

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"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." – Thomas Jefferson