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April 08, 2011

WTF? Government Can Read Any Of Your Old Emails Without A Warrant?

Can this possibly be true?

This is Wired, so I guess I believe them, but this... unbelievable. And scary.

And the government wants to retain this ability?

The Obama administration is urging Congress not to adopt legislation that would impose constitutional safeguards on Americans’ e-mail stored in the cloud.

"The cloud," I understand, is just email stored on external serves. Like any free email account. Like gmail, or yahoo.

As the law stands now, the authorities may obtain cloud e-mail without a warrant if it is older than 180 days, thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act adopted in 1986. At that time, e-mail left on a third-party server for six months was considered to be abandoned, and thus enjoyed less privacy protection. However, the law demands warrants for the authorities to seize e-mail from a person’s hard drive.

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.

That's insane. That's insane.

Generally these questions turn on the question of whether a person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" when making a communication.

All I can say is that I honestly believed that the government wasn't allowed to snoop in my email. I thought it was private. I realize any company can break its own privacy rules and read it themselves, but I thought there would be measures to punish that if it happened. Same as anyone at the Post Office could steam open a letter of mine, if he wanted.

Who thought that their email was Anything Goes for government snoops? I didn't. And if I'd known that, I wouldn't ever have used it at all.

If this is going to be the policy, then tell us so we can make arrangements going forward.

This idea that the government can take the position, quietly, that they're not going to tell you you have no privacy so they can continue exploiting this ignorance... well, if someone doesn't tell me I don't have an expectation of privacy, then my beliefs should rule.

Thanks to Reverend Jim.


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posted by Ace at 03:53 PM

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