Most things have changed for the better since the Pony Express delivered fast mail, but at least back in the day the mail delivery system was safe from the prying eyes of the Government if not from an occasional robbery. Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys are concerned to find that under antiquated Federal laws our email and internet privacy rights are not protected from Government inspection and intrusion.
|Pony Express Stamp, 1860|
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 emails older than 180 days are not protected from Government intrusion because the email is considered abandoned. Once emails are considered abandoned any law enforcement agency can gain access to personal emails with a mere subpoena.
There is no requirement for law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants for any emails over 180 days old stored on an internet server nor stored in the cloud. Therefore there’s no Judicial oversight over investigators who may abuse their subpoena power with impunity.
In 2011, The New York Times ran “1986 Privacy Law Is Outrun by the Web,” noting:
Last year, for example, the Justice Department argued in court that cellphone users had given up the expectation of privacy about their location by voluntarily giving that information to carriers. In April, it argued in a federal court in Colorado that it ought to have access to some e-mails without a search warrant. And federal law enforcement officials, citing technology advances, plan to ask for new regulations that would smooth their ability to perform legal wiretaps of various Internet communications.
In Tampa Bay, Florida local police agencies such as the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department have trampled on our privacy rights by using secret surveillance cameras, Deputies posing as utility workers to falsely gain entry into homes and obtaining evidence then faking subpoenas. Can Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies be trusted to make fair investigative decisions without any Judicial oversight?
Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers and every concerned citizen should demand that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 be amended to protect not only emails but internet use and cell phone use from inappropriate Government searches conducted without a Search Warrant.