Thursday, December 16, 2010

Warrant Required for Private Emails (in the 6th Circuit)

As reported HERE, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on Tuesday, December 14th, that
The government may not compel a commercial ISP to turn over the contents of a subscriber’s e-mails without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause.
In making this ruling, the Court held that a portion of the Federal Stored Communications Act - the portion that allowed an ISP to turnover a subscriber's emails without a warrant after they have been stored for 180 days - was unconstitutional.

We'll have to wait to see what the DOJ does with this ruling and whether the other Federal Circuit Courts fall in line, but for now, this decision is not binding on the Federal Courts outside the 6th Circuit.  Currently, the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, has not similarly ruled on this issue.  This could be a good issue for the cert from the Supreme Court.

The case, U.S. v. Warshak, can be found HERE.