EFF files brief against Stored Communications Act
In a friend-of-the-court-brief filed last week but just publicized today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other civil liberties groups held that the U.S. Federal Government much have a search warrant before it can search and seize emails stored by email service providers.
The EFF filed a brief in Warshak vs. United States, a proceeding that is accusing the Stored Communications Act of violating the U.S. Fourth Amendment by allowing secret warrantless searches and seizures of email stored by a third party.
The brief holds that the government must have a search warrant before it can search and examine these emails. Currently in favor of the EFF, the decision on the part of the Southern District of Ohio Federal Court to block the practice is being appealed by the U.S. Government to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Email users clearly expect that their inboxes are private, but the government argues the Fourth Amendment doesn't protect emails at all when they are stored with an ISP or a webmail provider like Hotmail or Gmail," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "EFF disagrees. We think that the Fourth Amendment applies online just as strongly as it does offline, and that your email should be as safe against government intrusion as your phone calls, postal mail, or the private papers you keep in your home."
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and the Center for Democracy and Technology joined the EFF amicus brief.
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