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20 Jun 2007

US email searches require a search warrant

A ruling by 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed that email users have the same 'reasonable expectation of privacy' as they do in respect of their phone calls. A search warrant is therefore required before the Goverment (or indeed anyone I guess) can legitimately access and search emails stored by Internet Service Providers. Furthermore, I understand the owner of the emails must be notified and given the right to object.

"In considering the factors for a preliminary injunction, the district court reasoned that e-mails held by an ISP were roughly analogous to sealed letters, in which the sender maintains an expectation of privacy. This privacy interest requires that law enforcement officials obtain a warrant, based on a showing of probable cause, as a prerequisite to a search of the e-mails."

But remember folks, IANAL. I have no idea whether this ruling is also relevant to companies accessing employees' emails, for example.

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