Author Topic: US: Warrant needed to snoop on your emails [IBM in deep blue doo-doo]  (Read 6283 times)

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Offline Dig

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Warrant needed to snoop on your emails, court finally rules
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/warrant-needed-snoop-emails-court/
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.'"
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline larsonstdoc

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Re: US: Warrant needed to snoop on your emails [IBM in deep blue doo-doo]
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 10:10:45 pm »
Warrant needed to snoop on your emails, court finally rules
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/warrant-needed-snoop-emails-court/
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.'"

  We can never trust the Supremes--Sotomayer, Kagan and the rest of those creeps.
I'M A DEPLORABLE KNUCKLEHEAD THAT SUPPORTS PRESIDENT TRUMP.  MAY GOD BLESS HIM AND KEEP HIM SAFE.

charrington

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Appeals court: warrant required before Feds can read e-mail
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 10:15:03 pm »
The government must obtain a valid search warrant before infiltrating your e-mail in a criminal investigation, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The appeals court ruled Tuesday on US v. Warshak, noting that e-mail "requires strong protection under the Fourth Amendment," and that law enforcement can't demand for an ISP to give up e-mail with just a court order.

The story behind the case goes back to 2006, when the Feds gained access to e-mail belonging to Steven Warshak, the man behind the "natural male enhancement" product Enzyte. At the time, Warshak had already incurred the wrath of the FTC, which said that there was no evidence that his products worked and found that his company routinely signed up callers for a monthly subscription plan that was difficult to cancel. Soon the FBI and the Postal Inspectors got on Warshak's case for mail and wire fraud as well.

The government was able to gain access to Warshak's e-mail thanks to a court order—a move that requires a significantly lower burden of proof than a full-on warrant. Warshak pushed back on the grounds that the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals eventually ruled in Warshak's civil case that his e-mail was indeed Constitutionally protected and that the ability to get the court order without notification was no longer allowed.

Although that previous ruling from the appeals court still stands, the latest decision is related to Warshak's criminal case (he was convicted in 2008 on 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering, and received a 25-year prison sentence). The Sixth Circuit once again agreed that a warrant is necessary before the government can access a citizen's e-mails through an ISP.

"Given the fundamental similarities between e-mail and...
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http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/12/appeals-court-warrant-required-before-feds-can-read-e-mail-mail.ars

Offline citizenx

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Re: US: Warrant needed to snoop on your emails [IBM in deep blue doo-doo]
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2010, 11:57:54 pm »
Google:  "Stop us before we spy again."

Damn.

[rant]

Here's an idea:  Google, Microsoft, AOL -- just stop your illegal and unconstitutional (treasonous) spying on American citizens right now.  Tell your NSA/CIA/DHS handlers to "go to hell".  Tell them "do not collect 200 dollars -- do not pass "Go" -- just go straight to hell."

How easy would that be.  It's already against the highest law of the land -- let them prove otherwise in a court of law (if they can, even with all their fancy lawyers).

We still have a fourth amendment.  We never gave it away.  We couldn't if we wanted to.  Something about "inalienable rights" in that other document -- and you might want to take a look at it.  It might become popular again.

[/rant]

Offline Dig

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Re: US: Warrant needed to snoop on your emails [IBM in deep blue doo-doo]
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2010, 12:31:36 am »
 We can never trust the Supremes--Sotomayer, Kagan and the rest of those creeps.

we do not need to, the constitution is the highest law of the land, sea, and air. SCOTUS cannot overturn the constitution or they deny their very existence as a ruling body in the first place.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline freedom_commonsense

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Re: US: Warrant needed to snoop on your emails [IBM in deep blue doo-doo]
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 12:36:51 am »
No such luck in Europe. Telecom firms are ordered to retain data for at least 6 months for "anti-terror" investigations by police.

ersatz

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Re: US: Warrant needed to snoop on your emails [IBM in deep blue doo-doo]
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 08:52:06 pm »
Court Rebuffs Obama on Warrantless Cell-Site Tracking

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/cell-site-warrants