Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can the government snoop on your e-mail?

Most people think that their e-mail should be treated as private but that has not been the legal reality.  The legal issue has been controversial for some time now but a current appeals court decision says that your e-mail is private and protected by the fourth amendment.  At the Volockh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr explains:
In the last three years, three federal circuits have published opinions on whether the Fourth Amendment applies to e-mail (dividing 2–1).  In all three cases, the initial panel opinions were withdrawn or overturned on other grounds, leaving the issue surprisingly unsettled. This morning, the Sixth Circuit handed down an opinion by Judge Boggs that addresses the question directly and concludes that the Fourth Amendment protects e-mail held by an ISP with a full warrant requirement.
That opinion seems to apply to snooping by the government.  In practice, computer techs at your internet service provider [ISP] can and, according to discussions on SlashDot, do, when they are bored, read your e-mail.  (Something similar happens when you give your PC to a repair shop: see below.)  Your e-mail won't be private until this behavior is illegal and prosecutable.

Via Feedom-to-tinker and Instapundit.

PREVIOUSLY on e-mail and hackers:
How important is your e-mail password?
Trial starts of Obama supporter who allegedly hacked Palin e-mail

PREVIOUSLY on privacy and modern electronics:
Internet privacy law update
Privacy and your electronic medical and financial records
Expect no privacy during hard disk repairs
e-mail is not private

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics