Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
The government may not access your private emails without a warrant, says the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal.
In a landmark Dec. 14, 2010 opinion, United States vs. Warshak [PDF] an appellate court invalidated provisions of the 1986 Stored Communications Act to the extent that the Act permitted the government, without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause, to obtain electronic communications from an ISP (Internet Service Provider), stating [emphasis added]:
Civil libertarians have cause to celebrate the Sixth Circuit's ruling this week, as well as an earlier Third Circuit decision [PDF], reaffirmed [PDF] this week, finding that a federal magistrate has the right to make a factual determination whether the government is required to get a court warrant to obtain cell-site information that mobile-phone carriers retain on their customers.
However, an assertion made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which had filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief, applauding the Warshak decision as "the only federal appellate decision currently on the books that squarely rules on this critically important privacy issue" is not entirely accurate. Moreover, concerns remain as to the scope of the Fourth Amendment protection that will be afforded by the Warshak decision...