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A very significant case involving core privacy protections is now being litigated, where the Obama Justice Department is seeking to obtain from Yahoo "all emails" sent and received by multiple Yahoo email accounts, despite the fact that DOJ has never sought, let alone obtained, a search warrant, and despite there being no notice of any kind to the email account holders:
In a brief filed Tuesday afternoon, the coalition says a search warrant signed by a judge is necessary before the FBI or other police agencies can read the contents of Yahoo Mail messages -- a position that puts those companies directly at odds with the Obama administration.
As part of a case conducted largely under seal and thus hidden from public view, the DOJ demanded these emails from Yahoo without any effort to demonstrate probable cause to believe the email user was involved in the commission of any crime, but instead merely based on the vague claim that there is "reasonable grounds to believe" the emails "are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."
If the DOJ position were accepted, Americans would have substantially less privacy protections in their email communications.
The judge should "reject the government's attempted end-run around the Fourth Amendment and require it to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before searching and seizing e-mails without prior notice to the account holder," the coalition brief filed Tuesday says. The Bill of Rights' Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and, in general, has been interpreted to mean warrantless searches are unreasonable.