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People have a Fourth Amendment reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail

Dec 16, 2010 People have a Fourth Amendment reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail

 

Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.)

People have a Fourth Amendment reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail:

[A] subscriber enjoys a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of emails “that are stored with, or sent or received through, a commercial ISP.” Warshak I, 490 F.3d at 473; see Forrester, 512 F.3d at 511 (suggesting that “[t]he contents [of email messages] may deserve Fourth Amendment protection”). The government may not compel a commercial ISP to turn over the contents of a subscriber’s emails without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause. Therefore, because they did not obtain a warrant, the government agents violated the Fourth Amendment when they obtained the contents of Warshak’s emails. Moreover, to the extent that the SCA [Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701 et seq.] purports to permit the government to obtain such emails warrantlessly, the SCA is unconstitutional.

U.S. v. Warshak, et al. ___ F.3d ___ (6th Cir., Dec. 14, 2010). 

ADDENDUM: Thanks to a colleague for posting on this Warshak case. 

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