The Fourth Amendment was written by leaders of a country much more vulnerable to attack and intrigue than ours, yet the Founders understood that the purpose of establishing co-equal branches of government was to limit the ability of any one branch to accumulate and therefore abuse unchecked power. When the executive branch effectively bars the public from knowing that it can be spied on, from knowing whether it is being spied on, and from even knowing what legal theory the feds are using in the conduct of their spying, then co-equal government is a dead letter. The legislative branch cannot be responsive to public opinion when the public is prevented from having one.
- Tag Archives 4th Amendment
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/
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/