Your Email Can Be Seized Without Warrant After Six Months

Back when everyone downloaded their email to their machine every time they checked email the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act considered email older than 180 days to be ‘abandoned.’

A coalition of internet service providers and other groups, known as Digital Due Process, has lobbied for an update to the law to treat both cloud- and home-stored e-mail the same, and thus require a probable-cause warrant for access. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on that topic Tuesday.

Surely an administration led by a constitutional scholar would welcome adjusting the law to keep the fourth amendment in good faith:

But the Obama administration testified that imposing constitutional safeguards on e-mail stored in the cloud would be an unnecessary burden on the government. Probable-cause warrants would only get in the government’s way.

I’m guessing they’ll claim either terrorism or child porn as the bugaboos:

“In one recent case, for example, law enforcement officers knew that a child exploitation subject had used one account to send and receive child pornography, and officers discovered that he had another email account, but they lacked evidence about his use of the second account.”

Ding!

“The government’s ability to access, review, analyze and act promptly upon the communications of criminals that we acquire lawfully, as well as data pertaining to such communications, is vital to our mission to protect the public from terrorists, spies, organized criminals, kidnappers and other malicious actors,” (.pdf) Baker testified.

Double-ding.

The process of obtaining warrants is supposed to get in the way. That’s the point.

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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