Practical Technology

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The Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect Email as much as You might think

If you’re concerned with email privacy, at first glance, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Constitution forbids the U.S. Federal Government from grabbing stored email without a warrant (PDF Link) sounds like great news. And, it is. It’s just not as great as you might think.

What happened in the case was that the government forced an ISP to reveal 27,000 emails without securing a warrant or giving notice to the customer, Steven Warshak. The Sixth Circuit Court held that the seizure violated Warshak’s Fourth Amendment rights because they were allowed to so because of the Stored Communications Act. Ironically, that act was meant to prohibit ISPs and other electronic communication providers from sharing mail or messages without their senders or receivers’ permission.

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