• Tag Archives 4th Amendment
  • DOJ: We don’t need warrants for e-mail, Facebook chats

    The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.

    Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.

    The U.S. attorney for Manhattan circulated internal instructions, for instance, saying a subpoena — a piece of paper signed by a prosecutor, not a judge — is sufficient to obtain nearly “all records from an ISP.” And the U.S. attorney in Houston recently obtained the “contents of stored communications” from an unnamed Internet service provider without securing a warrant signed by a judge first.

    “We really can’t have this patchwork system anymore, where agencies get to decide on an ad hoc basis how privacy-protective they’re going to be,” says Nathan Wessler, an ACLU staff attorney specializing in privacy topics who obtained the documents through open government laws. “Courts and Congress need to step in.”

    The Justice Department’s disinclination to seek warrants for private files stored on the servers of companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft continued even after a federal appeals court in 2010 ruled that warrantless access to e-mail violates the Fourth Amendment.

    Full article: http://news.cnet.com … mail-facebook-chats/


  • How much data can police swipe from suspects’ phones without a warrant? (Hint: A lot)

    Call logs, text messages, geo-locations and even data relating to proprietary technologies, such as Apple’s iMessage service: All of these can be downloaded by U.S. law enforcement when a suspect’s phone is plugged in and the data harvested for intelligence purposes.

    Up until now, most had no idea exactly what was collected or how it could be used, though it was believed this data could be acquired.

    Discovered by the U.S.-based privacy group, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), we now have a much clearer image of how much data from a seized cell phone or smartphone the U.S. government gets when a suspect’s phone is plugged into a data collection device.

    A court document submitted in connection with a drugs investigation shows that even Web history, data files, wireless networks and the user’s custom dictionary are downloaded when advanced forensic tools are connected to a suspect’s device.

    Also collected were the device’s geo-location points, including cell towers, allowing authorities to pinpoint roughly where the device—and therefore the suspect—may have been geographically.

    And because many use their cell phones and smartphones to access email on the move, it could allow authorities access to a goldmine of data—whether it’s used in the investigation or otherwise. This ultimately may allow authorities to bypass the need to submit subpoenas or search warrants — under the Stored Communications Act — to Apple, Google, Microsoft and others who provide email services, because the email data is already stored on the suspects’ device.

    Full article: http://www.zdnet.com … nt-a-lot-7000011891/


  • US data whistleblower: ‘It’s a violation of everybody’s constitutional rights’

    Binney, a tall, professorial man in his late 60s, led the development of a secret software code he now believes is illegally collecting huge amounts of information on his fellow citizens. For the staunch Republican, who worked for 32 years at the NSA, it is a civil liberties nightmare come true.

    http://www.megalextoria.com/forum2/index.php?t=msg&th=11995&start=0&