Stop reading my email !

7 comments

The seizure of email without a search warrant by the US government may finally be a thing of the past. Enzyte founder is under investigation concerning fraud and discovered that the government was reading his email with out a warrant. He sued saying it was a violation of his fourth amendment rights and the 6th court of appeals ruled for him. The case could be appealed but at least the judicial system is catching up with technology by addressing these issues.

In a post 911 world where national security letters are being handed out does this really matter?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,284193,00.html
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2007_06.php#005321

Comments

every red-blooded American

should be glad to see the Constitution found to rule in the Union online as well as offline. Over two centuries all kinds of bullshit has been struck down because of the genius of our founding fathers - and not because of the immediate concerns of the day, or the leaders, or the American people.

still a lot of rolling back to do after the Dubya massacree, but I expect it all to come to court eventually

imparting intent is not the solution

As "entities" seek to interpret intent as a way to judge the legality of actions like these, we move down a very slippery slope away from a free and open society. From the above article:

Quote:
Government attorneys had contended that the service providers can filter against viruses, spam and pornography, but the appeals court compared those practices to postal workers screening mail for drugs or explosives. "It's one thing to filter for spam or viruses," said Susan Freiwald, a University of San Francisco law professor who co-wrote a brief filed in support of Warshak. "Those are not the same thing as going in and reading people's e-mails."

The very last thing we should seek is a system where our neighbors' view of our intent drives our judicial system. There is significant value to a system of laws. We just need better laws (which usually come thru better lawyers).

If it's true that (from the EFF article) :

Quote:
"Email users expect that their Hotmail and Gmail inboxes are just as private as their postal mail and their telephone calls," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "The government tried to get around this common-sense conclusion, but the Constitution applies online as well as offline, as the court correctly found. That means that the government can't secretly seize your emails without a warrant."

Then we need a law that says that clearly. Sans such a law, we get statements like that one where an EFF staff lawyer can say "email user's expect" and suddenly it's law? I know plenty of email users who expect emails are NOT private, and often that is based in other existing laws and precedents.

Let's not forget that the tools of debate are available to both sides... "email user's don't expect that their Hotmail and GMail inboxes are private" sounds just as valid to me.

That seems pedantic to me

That seems pedantic to me John. Yes you could assert that there are two parties, but the average person expects that there is privacy with email. If that idea is called in doubt a simple survey could be done to show which view was more prevalent amongst users.

For years the concept

For years the concept hammered home was "there is no expectation of privacy with corporate email". Just about everyone with a job knows that now, as required by most state laws.

In the consumer space that spilled over to "email is sent clear text all over, stored in multiple places". Google added advertising and "saved forever" aspects to it. Hotmail was hacked enough for some to assume hotmail was not private, etc etc. Carnivore yielded to Patriot Act in the news reports, but the message was consistent: they can see your emails if they look.

*if* you could elicit the truth in a survey of users, would they admit they believe email is not private, or that they believe it is private? I don't believe you could get an unbiased response... humans will tell you what they want to be true, not what they believe to be true.

Just today, a client's accounting department asked (via email) for my bank wire transfer info. I sent all but account #, and said call me for that so it's not in the email with the routing numbers etc. I got the call, and gave the number. Minutes later I got a CC of an email from that person to several others in that company, including all of the bank routing details and account number.

If you asked them and they could respond honestly, I think they'd all admit to knowing that email was not private. But none could safely admit that. That is what we have built. A system based on lies, with security propped up by a common expressed belief in the lies.

And you want to impose a rule of law based on that? I think you might like living in rural China.

So your saying if there was

So your saying if there was a survey and they agreed with my expectation then it would be a lie and if they agreed with yours then it wouldn't be ? Thats very convenient for your point of view.

Quote: So your saying if

Quote:
So your saying if there was a survey and they agreed with my expectation then it would be a lie and if they agreed with yours then it wouldn't be ? Thats very convenient for your point of view.

haha. I didn't come here for an argument - lol. I simply doubt you could survey reliably. But there could be other ways to learn their true leanings... but why bother? Make a law. Tell them whether or not email is private. Just like phone calls. Clarify the issue in law.

Rulings are law..

Rulings from judges are "law".. Case law is a large part of law, not just legislation. The EFF guy saying

"Email users expect that their Hotmail and Gmail inboxes are just as private as their postal mail and their telephone calls"

is fine, but the judge said something similar :

"The district court correctly determined that e-mail users maintain a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of their e-mails"

which binds lower courts to this finding. ( but IANAL )

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