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From Kashmir Hill at True/Slant:

Federal judge rules that police can search your e-mail without telling you
October 30, 2009

If the po-po suspect that your e-mail reveals evidence of criminal activity, they can get a search warrant and start word-searching your archives without your ever being told. So says Oregon judge Michael Mosman.

In a decision this month, Mosman ruled that the Fourth Amendment--protection from unreasonable search and seizures--does not guard us from this kind of search. Given that I often exchange e-mails with sources who would prefer to stay anonymous, this ruling alarms me. Though hopefully my writing would never expose me to a criminal investigation. Legal blogs are buzzing about the ruling. (See the Volokh Conspiracy and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.)

The problem with this is that you would never even know that the search happened. It would all take place without any notification to prevent you from deleting e-mails or refraining from continuing your illegal activity. In explaining his ruling, Mosman writes that the Fourth Amendment protects our homes from unreasonable searches and seizures, but that when we use the Internet, our actions are no longer in our homes and we are no longer "acting in private space at all."
Read more story here.

Read the ruling here as PDF.
 

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Sounds just like OPENING MY PAPER MAIL to me. :aarg
 

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Sounds just like OPENING MY PAPER MAIL to me. :aarg
My thoughts exactly. It's not open to the public, only for the viewing discretion of the sender and receiver. I got no problem with them reading anything I post or blog on the internet, because then you have no expectations of privacy, but not the same with e-mail.
 

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Same thing as a wiretap or mail intercept. All legal with a search warrant and it has been for decades. The supposed safeguard here is prior judicial review of the legality and necessity of the search. Notification, in these cases, is neither necessary nor desirable from an investigative stand point. The interesting facet of this case was the decision that notification of the holder of the property to be seized was sufficient to satisfy Federal law and that notification of the actual owner(?) or producer was not necessary. This is similar to a letter, written by one person and sent to another, being seized from the recipient. In most cases, it has been decided that the author of the letter no longer has any claim upon it and notification of the seizure is not required to be made to the author. Nothing here is very surprising.

If you want to safeguard the privacy of your communications, I suggest that you make use of encryption software.
 

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In a decision this month, Mosman ruled that the Fourth Amendment--protection from unreasonable search and seizures--does not guard us from this kind of search. Given that I often exchange e-mails with sources who would prefer to stay anonymous, this ruling alarms me. Though hopefully my writing would never expose me to a criminal investigation. Legal blogs are buzzing about the ruling. (See the Volokh Conspiracy and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.)

The Messiah has spoken ... :D
 

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1984 is coming :rolleyes:
George Orwell was right :aarg

Encryption: I wonder if you could be obliged to reveal the key if a warrant was issued ?
Of course, my memory is not what it used to be :laughing
 

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This is why PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption was invented. I wish its use would become commonplace.
 

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1984 is coming :rolleyes:
George Orwell was right :aarg

Encryption: I wonder if you could be obliged to reveal the key if a warrant was issued ?
Of course, my memory is not what it used to be :laughing
". . .
nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself
. . . "
 

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Encryption: I wonder if you could be obliged to reveal the key if a warrant was issued ?
Of course, my memory is not what it used to be :laughing
Even if you were, at the very least it wouldn't be a search without you knowing, which is something.

I've heard of situations like these before involving either child pornography or illegally shared music (can't remember), where the files were encrypted and they were trying to charge the owner with obstruction if they didn't provide the decryption key. I cannot remember where I heard this and it may have just been a hypothetical, so don't take it too seriously, but I'm sure its been adressed before.
 

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This sort of thing is why I always say never post anything online or send anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want to hear read aloud in court.
 

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This sort of thing is why I always say never post anything online or send anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want to hear read aloud in court.
+1, Got to love the Patriot Act.
 
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