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October 11, 2011

Feds Cite ECPA to Justify E-mail Snooping Without Warrant

SnoopThe Electronic Communications Privacy Act is again in the news as the The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal government used the act to justify the secret gathering of e-mails from WikiLeaks supporter Jacob Appelbaum.

Under the ECPA, law enforcement agencies can secretly gather a user's electronic records from internet service providers (ISPs) without first obtaining getting a search warrant or even a showing of probable cause.

In this case the ISPs, Google and Sonic.net, brought a challenge in court to let the user at least be informed of the collection of his electronic data. "Sonic said it fought the government's order and lost, and was forced to turn over information," and both ISPs "pressed for the right to inform Mr. Appelbaum of the secret court orders," WSJ reported.

The article notes that several court decisions that have challenged the law, and questioned whether it violates the Fourth Amendment.

Image: Clipart.com

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