Email gets fourth amendment protection again

Brad Templeton, chairman of the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes,

In a tremendous victory for privacy rights, the US 6th circuit court has restored the power of 4th amendment protection to emails stored on a remote host like an ISP or Webmail, striking down sections of the Stored Communications Act which have been routinely used to grab emails without a warrant.

The court agreed with an amicus brief filed by EFF attorney Kevin Bankston that people did have a reasonable expectation of privacy on their emails even when not stored on their home systems. This decision will make life far easier for users, and for operators of hosted email services like Google's Gmail.

The irony is that the brief was written by the same Kevin Bankston reported last week in Boing Boing who got such a runaround from Google over a request to pull his face from Google Street View.


(Thanks, Brad!)

Update: EFF's Kevin Bankston adds, "You should point out that the amicus effort in Warshak was a joint one–our cosigners ACLU (special thanks to Catherine Crump) and CDT (special thanks to Jim Dempsey) played a key part in creating our amicus brief, as did my colleague at EFF, Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. Credit is also due to law professors Susan Freiwald and Patricia Bellia who also wrote an amicus brief–signed on to by an impressive coalition of professors–that the court relied on very heavily. Finally and of course, credit goes to Mr. Warshak's counsel Martin Weinberg, who brought the case and successfully argued it in front of both the district court and the appeals court."