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SCI/TECH: The End of E-Mail Privacy?

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posted on Jul, 3 2004 @ 07:31 AM
In a ruling yesterday a United States federal appeals court struck a blow against personal privacy and, curiously, cyber-crime law enforcement alike. This ruling establishes that e-mail and other "stored communications" do not fall under the 1968 "Wiretap Act." A such, the interception of these messages by a third party is not illegal.

e-Week News
A federal appeals court ruling this week has put a spotlight on the increasingly public nature of e-mail messages and has unraveled expectations that e-mail would gain the same privacy protections as traditional communications.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that protections under the federal Wiretap Act do not extend to e-mail messages stored on an e-mail provider's computer systems.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This court opinion should stamp out any perceptions still held by users of e-mail and other electronic communications, including "Instant Messaging," that their messages are in any way private.

The affect is similarly devastating for law enforcement because the prohibition against the interception of electronic communication was a critical tool in combating Internet-based crime, such as industrial espionage, stalking, and identity theft.

It is now up to the United States legislature to enact a statute to more effectively represent the privacy of e-mail and related methods of communication

Related News Links
Computer World
NY Times (subscription required)

Related ATS Discussions
FBI opens new computer crime lab

[edit on 3-7-2004 by Spectre]

posted on Jul, 3 2004 @ 07:41 AM
Im not surprised. Workplace systems are already scrutinized by employers. More to the point, if Echelon or other methods are being used to track me email, I really don't care If some flunkie at the NSA or FBI wants intercept my lamb recipe, or a picture of my son, i could care less.

posted on Jul, 3 2004 @ 02:19 PM
Its just funny to see people act so suprised when they find out all their online activites can and are recorded in at least one place, often more than one. I don't think there ever has been real privacy online, even in the staggering piles of log files out there it takes but a little effort and maybe a perl script to start making sense of it all.

posted on Jul, 3 2004 @ 02:28 PM
Easy. You dont want your emails to be read by other people.

Then use some sort of encryption. Otherwise chances are it will be read by a third party. Im sure the boys over at the NSA are monitoring email traffic looking for key words.

posted on Jul, 3 2004 @ 03:37 PM
Sorry to say, but if you start sending encrypted mail, you are going to be red-flagged REALLY fast. What this court said is that mail saved on the server side is basically public domain. The government (nor anybody) can intercept your mail or take it from your computer.

So, your solution is this: leave your mail client open all the time so it automatically downloads it to your pute and erases it from the server side.


posted on Jul, 5 2004 @ 02:39 AM

Originally posted by Earthscum
Sorry to say, but if you start sending encrypted mail, you are going to be red-flagged REALLY fast.

That's their problem.

They definitely have some PCs running:

NSA's budget for electricity exceeds $21 million per year, making it the second largest electricity consumer in the entire State of Maryland.

posted on Jul, 5 2004 @ 04:37 AM

That's their problem.

Exactly, it's their job to solve the problem. If everyone encrypted it, then they have to use traditional means to look for bad guy. They need to look at the likely (profiled) bad guys instead of considering everyone a bad guy until proven otherwise.

[edit on 5-7-2004 by outsider]

posted on Jul, 5 2004 @ 05:14 AM
Actually, it surprises me that anyone assumed that e-mail was EVER private in the first place. It wasn't, unless you encrypted it, folks.

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