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US Wants Courts to OK Warrantless Email Snooping 476

Posted by Zonk
from the hope-they-enjoyed-my-firefly-related-diatribes dept.
Erris writes "The Register is reporting that the US government is seeking unprecedented access to private communications between citizens. 'On October 8, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati granted the government's request for a full-panel hearing in United States v. Warshak case centering on the right of privacy for stored electronic communications. ... the position that the United States government is taking if accepted, may mean that the government can read anybody's email at any time without a warrant. The most distressing argument the government makes in the Warshak case is that the government need not follow the Fourth Amendment in reading emails sent by or through most commercial ISPs. The terms of service (TOS) of many ISPs permit those ISPs to monitor user activities to prevent fraud, enforce the TOS, or protect the ISP or others, or to comply with legal process. If you use an ISP and the ISP may monitor what you do, then you have waived any and all constitutional privacy rights in any communications or other use of the ISP.'"
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US Wants Courts to OK Warrantless Email Snooping

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:16AM (#21239545)
    Anytime someone tells you to "think about it" and then proceeds to explain how one little point can be logically followed to some outrageous conclusion it means that they have no real proof and are relying on your credulity to fill in the gaps in their logic.

    Think about it.
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:24AM (#21239575)
      "Think about it" comes in the same jar as "obvious". Both have only one reason to exist, to make you look like a fool if you don't agree.

      "Think about it" is usually the final sentence after a list of "proofs" that present the point of the one arguing. "Obviously" is used whenever he does not have any facts to support his theory. No facts needed, it's "obvious" and if you don't agree, you can't even see the obvious, dumbass!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:25AM (#21239589)
        That's pretty obvious, if you think about it.
      • Re:"Think about it" (Score:5, Informative)

        by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:31AM (#21239631)
        Perhaps you and the GP should read TFA and become [eff.org] aware [typepad.com] of some [google.com] of the issues [wikipedia.org] here.
        Oh, and for the "it's the Register, pooh pooh" crowd, the original FA was frist psoted on Security Focus [securityfocus.com].
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:01AM (#21239785) Journal
        Human beings don't need proof to operate. We are intuitive computers, and are capable of seeing where trends overlap to produce synergistic effects. If we weren't, we would be incapable of making a decision to achieve effects larger than the span of our own lives, and yet we are.

        Sometimes, "think about it" is an invitation to test your brain and see if it's broken before they write you off as an idiot who really is.

        Obviously.
        • by ubrgeek (679399)
          Slightly off-topic, but a random quote I received today seems to be related: "I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle"
          • Sounds like something a detective in a writer of detective fiction with a flair for the dramatic would say.

            Of course, if you were to look for someone with experience being in a position of command, where who doesn't have the leisure to refuse to guess, a professional writer of fiction would probably be the absolute worst choice you could make. A housewife or a traffic cop would be better prepared.

            It's very eloquent though.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417)
          I'm a statistician (yes, the ways of the invisible pink unicorn are odd and I ended up in antivirus research). One of the things our department head at the university kept repeating over and over was to get your facts straight, verify your facts, test your facts and most of all, don't interpret them until you have at the very least thought of a way to interpret them to argue exactly in the opposite direction. If you can use them that way, toss your facts, your statistic and everything you want to argue for.
    • by voss (52565) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:40AM (#21239683)
      This is the same administration...

      1) Staged faked news conferences and failed to tell the real reporters
      2) Cant decide whether waterboarding is torture

      These people will do anything they are allowed to until they are told no and
      sometimes even after they are told no.

      There is a way around this, if a court says the ISP agreement is what creates
      or does not create a reasonable expectation of privacy then the day after
      the court rules as such then I will tell my ISP either they change their ISP
      agreement to say that my emails are private and will only be disclosed upon a valid
      court order or I will find a new ISP that will do so.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rikkards (98006)
        Here is a better alternative http://www.gnupg.org/ [gnupg.org]
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If you think the current administration is responsible for the exponential growth of the US government over the past 200 years, in both revenue and power over the people, then you haven't been paying attention to history.

        There's a reason why every year we are subject to more laws than the year before. There's a reason why every year government spends more than the year before. There's a reason why every year power is concentrated further into the hands of the few. There's a reason why every year you are les
  • "Land of the Free" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FyRE666 (263011) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:22AM (#21239565) Homepage
    So much for that slogan - The US and China (or even cold war Russia) are not really that different. Total government control over communications, news media under govt control, corruption (although to be fair that's standard operating practice for any govt...)
    • by rvw (755107) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:28AM (#21239615)
      "The government".... Does that mean Bush and his mates can monitor all Democratic email traffic? That would be handy for the upcoming elections!
      • I bet Nixon feels really stupid now. I mean, with a bit of planning...
      • by Kelz (611260) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:35AM (#21239975)
        Well, if the government doesn't need a warrant... does it apply to the public as well? I'd personally love to see some of the RNC's email, especially some juicy Rove memos.
      • by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:36AM (#21239985)

        Here's the ironic side of this - the Democrats are pretty much in a lock to have the next White House, barring another extreme disaster that sends people running back to Big Brother again. All of these broad, sweeping changes for the power of the White House will only be partially in effect for Bush's term... and fully in effect for Obama or Clinton's term. The Democrats would like to thank the Republicans for giving them such broad power. (Not that I support either of them having it, mind you.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Here's the ironic side of this - the Democrats are pretty much in a lock to have the next White House, barring another extreme disaster that sends people running back to Big Brother again."

          Do you really believe that? I think it is MUCH more up in the air at this moment. I mean, congress is at an all time low. The Dems got in, and pretty much have failed to do ANYTHING they said they were gonna do if voted in over the Reps. War? Still going on. Privacy matters? Nah...they gave in on the recent chance to p

      • by Erris (531066) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:06AM (#21240653) Homepage Journal

        They can spy on Democrats, their own people and anyone's and that's why this is more important than firefly diatribes. Without privacy in communications anyone who would bother to stand up for your rights can be identified and punished. Targeting can start in school, before the victim understands the issues or can defend themselves. Anyone who would encourage or aid the dissenter can also be punished. What the current administration is asking for is a tool more complete than Orwell was able to imagine in a paper world.

        Imagine, for example, that Martin Luther King Jr. [wikipedia.org] had been identified when he was a Morehouse College, instead of 1961. Do you think he would have been able to withstand such early and sustained attention as he suffered later [wikipedia.org]? As late as the 1980's some asshole decided to prove that King did not deserve his PhD [wikipedia.org]. If a smear campaign had been launched while King was at Morehouse, he would never have made it in to Boston or Crozer. Would it have been possible to recognize a pattern or would society have simply been robbed of a charismatic champion?

        It's cases like King's that created the outrage that outlawed domestic spying. We should remember those foul deeds and start the pendulum swinging back towards privacy. What we find today may be worse than what we know about King because technology has made things so much easier to identify, smear and harass.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Detritus (11846)
          Anyone who is a public figure can expect their past to be closely scrutinized. Why should King get a free pass for a PhD thesis that had large sections that were plagiarized from other people's work? I thought plagiarism was supposed to be a mortal sin in academia.
    • by arevos (659374) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:49AM (#21239737) Homepage

      The US and China (or even cold war Russia) are not really that different.
      When trying to convince people of the dangers of government control, hyperbole like this doesn't help. A US citizen still has considerably more rights than a Chinese citizen.

      Also, you can't reasonably expect any privacy in email unless you encrypt its contents.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jamar0303 (896820)
        Depends on what you do in your day-to-day life. Quite a few times I feel more free in China than I do than America (particularly when it comes to cellphones- carrier locking? Even the CDMA carrier here has open phones, and if it's locked, the locals will find a way to unlock it- with a couple of exceptions- not the iPhone).
      • by Felix Da Rat (93827) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:19AM (#21240263)

        When trying to convince people of the dangers of government control, hyperbole like this doesn't help. A US citizen still has considerably more rights than a Chinese citizen.

        Also, you can't reasonably expect any privacy in email unless you encrypt its contents.
        As you didn't provide any more information regarding those rights for the U.S. Citizen, you are doing the same thing as the Parent Poster. I believe the original post was making the argument that the US Citizen, by actions like this is losing those rights. Or at least in danger of doing so.

        On privacy, while it is possible to read an unencrypted e-mail, that is not the same as an invitation to do so. It is possible to read my documents in my locked file cabinet, it just requires access and a pull hammer. Does that mean that those can be reviewed by the government? My phone line can be tapped by pretty much anyone, but does that mean it is okay for everyone to do so?

        I don't disagree, I think that encryption is a fine thing, and should be used more often. However, I do not believe that my right to privacy exists regardless of the technological possibilities to interfere with it.
    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:07AM (#21240173) Homepage

      The US and China (or even cold war Russia) are not really that different.

      Yep... 20 mln citizens have already gone to labor camps and hundreds of thousands executed [wikipedia.org], while deliberately-induced starvation [wikipedia.org] is killing millions more on conquered lands. No private property can legally exist — all enterprises belong to the State (of Workers and Peasants). It is illegal for peasants to leave their village without the headmaster's Ok (he is the one issuing them passports), and for all others to leave the country. Those suspected of subversion are tried by secret courts — either for the actual subversion, or (in the later stages of the Cold War) for "drug dealing", "gun possession", or homosexuality [wikipedia.org]. It is illegal to own "xerox" machines and other "publishing" equipment.

      Hot water is a luxury available in cities, and even the running cold water (where available) could be out for days and weeks at a time. Wait for for an apartment is counted in years (and decades), as is the wait for telephone connection. Cars are small, unreliable, polluting, expensive, but you can't get them anyway. Same is true of electronics and most other manufactured things.

      Yes. America is not that different at all...

      Total government control over communications

      Patently false — the government is seeking access to one particular method of communication — unencrypted e-mails. Whether they get it or not, you are a fool, if you expected privacy of that to begin with...

      ... news media

      Except the Register, right? Phew...

  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:23AM (#21239571) Homepage
    Using a snail-mail analogy, I can understand this. If I send a postcard out (plain email), I don't expect the message on the card to remain private, as anyone in the delivery chain can read it without any tampering. When I do want privacy, I can put my message in a sealed envelope instead (PGP encryption for email) to ensure only the recipient can read it. Seems fair to me. The general populous need to be more aware that plain email is more like a postcard than a message in a sealed envelope though.
    • by cenonce (597067)
      In the end, however, I think your sealed envelope is more like plain e-mail. If your envelope is ripped, damaged, held up to the light or whatever and the Postal Service (or anybody) looks at the contents and sees what they believe is illegal activity, a warrant based on that info is not going to get tossed. Same as if some sysadmin, script kiddie or whoever is looking at packets as your e-mail goes through the system and somehow catches you are doing something illegal. If script kiddie gets a momentary
    • by Null Nihils (965047) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:54AM (#21239759) Journal

      The general populous need to be more aware that plain email is more like a postcard than a message in a sealed envelope though.
      Which is funny, because the canonical user interface icon for e-mail is... a sealed envelope. Even ISPs will present their e-mail services with such an image.

      In other words, the snagging point is the definition of "expectation of privacy" -- but the situation is really quite simple: The average user simply expects privacy, but the government is trying to force them to abandon that expectation, so they can then go and install ubiquitous e-mail surveillance without violating the letter of the US Constitution. The government is trying to win by arguing semantics, so what I find hardest to believe is that anyone is taking all this blatant skullduggery seriously. I've seen better weaseling from schoolkids trying to avoid homework assignments.

      E-mail is electronic, so the message is NOT viewable in transit without making an effort to intercept and decode it, even if the encoding is just ASCII. It's not like mailing a postcard, it's like sending an electrically encoded text message over a packet-switched data network where the only expected viewing point is at the intended recipient's terminal; this is how the e-mail protocol was designed to work. Sure, a malicious party can read it because it's not encrypted, but someone can easily slice open a postal mail envelope and read the contents of that, too.

      The bottom line is, since a non-trivial effort has to be made to read the contents, and since the service has always been presented as a "sealed letter", the average user is not unreasonable in expecting privacy.
      • by DrFruit (1178261) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:27AM (#21239931)
        Here is another point I miss in the e-mail/postcard analogy. Even if you accept that e-mail is more like a postcard than a sealed envelope (which I agree is a false analogy and used as an excuse to erode our expectations of privacy), how does that justify routinely reading messages? Post office workers may read the occasional postcard for a laugh, but who would expect a government (or any other organisation) to routinely copy every postcard and scan it for illegal or suspect content?
      • by tkw954 (709413) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:22AM (#21240277)

        [Email is] like sending an electrically encoded text message over a packet-switched data network...

        Where's Bad Analogy Guy when you need him?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EriDay (679359)
        These pinheads have no understanding of blowback. This will cause the small amount of communications being encrypted in the past to become the majority of communications being encrypted in the future. Yesterday they could look at the profile on a user and encrypted email might set off alarms. Next year every user will encrypt all email, they may try to prevent this domestically, but the international community will lead the way to 100% strong encryption on email seamlessly integrated into the client.
    • by Kelz (611260)
      IANAL, but it seems the government has a bit of a conundrum. Half the time people want the internet to be free/anonymous, and half the time they want it to be private information. Truthfully it can't be both, and I don't see unencrypted emails going through public ISPs as ever being called private, no matter if they are treated as such by the sender. People can look at them if they put the time in.

      Now though, following with the the governments policy on encryption via the DMCA (as I understand it, once a
    • The difference is, when you send out a letter, it takes a deliberate act of intrustion to read the contents, just as it takes a deliberate act of intrusion to read someone's email. If you get a postcard on your hand, sure, then read it. But, that's really more like someone sending you an email by mistake.
    • by Erris (531066) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:18AM (#21240759) Homepage Journal

      The general populous need to be more aware that plain email is more like a postcard than a message in a sealed envelope though.

      "Reasonable expectation of privacy" arguments mask the true cost of tyranny and the public should object to all forms of domestic spying. The right emails do not just fall from the sky onto FBI agent desks so that criminals can be prosecuted. It costs money to read and sort email. It's outrageous to waste tax money on things like that because criminals know how to hide and the machinery will be abused for political purposes [slashdot.org]. One way to protect the public from that kind of waste and abuse is to demand government obtain search warrents for email snooping. This is what the fourth amendment is all about.

  • to any citizen who believes in a free and open society, I'll be EXTRA worried when they outlaw encryption...
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      They can't outlaw encryption, since that will affect business badly. Nor can they outlaw encrypted emails, same reason. All they can do is make it so they can have the keys on asking, which I imagine is already the case. Mind you under this totalitarianist approach, the mere act of using encryption as a private citizen places you under suspicion.

      So, how is it there in the land of the free? Good still?
    • "to any citizen who believes in a free and open society, I'll be EXTRA worried when they outlaw encryption..."

      Oddly enough until recently it was standard practice for western governments to "outlaw encryption". Before public key encryption came along some of the 'founding farthers' of computer science had worked out how to crack most types of encryption with relative ease and on the side they built computers with meccano sets that calculated trajectory tables.

      As a direct result of the German and Japan
  • It's not like the Bush administration cares what a court says. They'd do it regardless. It's a matter of national security, you know?
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:55AM (#21240091) Homepage
      No, it does matter: What they're trying to do is ensure that any administration that comes after them can't prosecute them for what they've done.
  • It's only fair and understandable that I use GPG and onion routing for even the most trivial matters, since now it's public knowledge that whatever I send via the internet can and will be read by anyone wanting to do so.

    Using any kind of encryption is thus quite normal behaviour and can never be seen as any kind of sign that I could possibly be discussing the whereabouts of Ozzy.
    • Perhaps your right, more of us should use encryption by default.
      Pidgin has encryption plugins which you can use fairly transparently on a one to one basis. Talking to friends with encryption on is effortless.

      So what about email how easy is it to default to encrypted and not make it awkward for the recipients to read the content?

      Any recommendations?

      incidentally it might have a side benefit of making encrypted mail easy to white list. would spammers have your public key ...
  • Right.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morky (577776) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:29AM (#21239621)
    Because, of course, terrorists are using unencrypted email to plan their misdeeds.
    • Terrorists are not known for their computer savvy. I remember a couple years ago Al-Qaeada's supposed head of computing was arrested and he was running windows with his entire hard drive (which was full of evidence) was entirely unencrypted. Apparently they have done some things possibly with freenet that have been fairly anonymous but I would not be surprised to learn that a lot of plaintext e-mail about sensitive matters gets tossed around, like in any organization.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pla (258480)
      Because, of course, terrorists are using unencrypted email to plan their misdeeds.

      Some do. The stupid ones that keep getting caught do.

      The rest (including the successful ones) either don't use email at all, or they use all the best privacy-protecting tools available.
  • What privacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cenonce (597067) <anthony_t@mac. c o m> on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:29AM (#21239625)
    ISPs are not government entities, though I get that in the digital age, the line of who is a state actor and what is a state action is less clear. So there is no 4th amendment protection against what the ISPs do with your data (though there may be some statutory or common law tort theories for privacy violations). ISPs can provide you service under any terms they see fit, and you certainly don't have a constitutional right to broadband internet access.

    The far more impacting (and interesting) legal question is how the courts are going to view the 4th amendment (and others) in light of the way communications are stored for eternity on the internet. A traditional approach seems unwise, since the way ISPs word their terms of service make it so your data practically falls under the "open fields" doctrine for purposes of search and seizure. On the other end of the spectrum, I don't want police investigations entirely shut down just because we want heightened protections for data that we keep in essentially insecure methods.

    If you are that worried about privacy, use PGP or GPG.
    • How should it affect police investigations?

      Those who do have criminal activities in mind will, or do already. Do you really think those Al Quaida guys don't know how to use PGP? Do you really think they send any kind of crap unencrypted anymore? If at all, that is?

      Imagine you know what you're doing is against the law. Do you do it where you can be seen and snooped, especially after hearing so much about it being used? How hard do you think it is for them to use halfway decent encryption that thwarts such sn
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cenonce (597067)
        Well, first you make an assumption that all criminals, and all members of al-quaida are sophisticated enough to use encryption. In light of the crap I have seen posted on myspace, youtube, facebook and the like, that is clearly not the case.

        Second, I was really making a comment on the interpreting the 4th amendment in the digital age. One of the ways that privacy, though not necessarily 4th amendment protected privacy, is "violated" is by snooping. The question is, where does the 4th amendment kick in?
    • Re:What privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wylfing (144940) <(brian) (at) (wylfing.net)> on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:47AM (#21241049) Homepage Journal

      ISPs can provide you service under any terms they see fit, and you certainly don't have a constitutional right to broadband internet access.

      BZZZT. Once again this fallacy rears its head.

      The U.S. Constitution is NOT a positive enumeration of citizens' rights. You have a right to do everything except what is specifically forbidden (by laws that we consent to live under). In addition, the Constitution isn't even about you, Mr. Citizen. The Constitution is about what We the People will permit government to do and not do. In other words, we (the people) already have all the rights in the universe*. A few of those we will consent to give for the purpose of living more-or-less harmoniously, and a few of those we will permit to the government. All else we reserve for ourselves and for the individual States in which we consent to live.

      * So yes, I do have a Constitutional right to broadband Internet access.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dpilot (134227)
        You're absolutely right, and in the Constitution it explicitly states that rights are "not restricted to those herein enumerated," yet somehow "strict constructionists" keep saying, "That right is not specifically stated in the Constitution, therefore it does not exist."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rohan427 (521859)
      ISPs are not government entities, though I get that in the digital age, the line of who is a state actor and what is a state action is less clear. So there is no 4th amendment protection against what the ISPs do with your data (though there may be some statutory or common law tort theories for privacy violations). ISPs can provide you service under any terms they see fit, and you certainly don't have a constitutional right to broadband internet access.

      Once an ISP begins providing the government informat
  • by LM741N (258038) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:30AM (#21239627)
    It might take something like this to put PGP and the like into the mainstream.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:31AM (#21239633)
    Maybe I have some funny concepts what the difference between a company and a government is supposed to be, but a company should first and foremost have its shareholders and owners in mind, a government its people (who're, technically, its owners).

    Is it me or is that difference not quite clear here? That an ISP snoops on its users is not a good thing, but considering that its customers are just the necessary evil to get the money for its owners, they're not their main concern. The people, on the other hand, should be the main concern of a government.

    It's the governments only excuse to exist at all!
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:32AM (#21239643) Homepage
    Unprecedented in the US, yes. Just about anywhere else, no. China, morocco, iran, Russia and the Netherlands are all 4 running much worse programs. (like constant monitoring for keywords for example).

    And we're not even going to "really" oppressive countries like north korea or pakistan.

    If you speak dutch, read http://www.onderwereldblog.nl/?page_id=64 [onderwereldblog.nl] for example.
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      Actually, Russian laws require law enforcement to get a court order to wiretap anything.

      Of course, I don't think the law is being followed to the letter...
  • oblig xkcd (Score:5, Funny)

    by RuBLed (995686) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:32AM (#21239645)
  • by William Robinson (875390) on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:43AM (#21239693)
    01001001 00100000 01100001 01101100 01110111 01100001 01111001 01110011 00100000 01110011 01100101 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101101 01100001 01101001 01101100 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01101101 01111001 00100000 01100111 01101001 01110010 01101100 01100110 01110010 01101001 01100101 01101110 01100100 01110011 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001.
  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:00AM (#21239779)

    No problem... let them snoop. Now I'll just be twiddling the "Encrypt and sign all outgoing email" box on my MUA, and finally start using GPG [gnupg.org] full-time for all of my incoming and outgoing email, instead of with just my friends and close colleagues.

    There are plugins for Evolution [lwn.net], pine [dma.org], mutt [codesorcery.net], Thunderbird [mozdev.org] and just about every other Mail User Agent you can find out there.

    Another great benefit, is that I can automatically block/quarantine/delete any and all email that does not contain a gpg-signed component (i.e. 99.999% of all email out there, mostly spam). dspam [nuclearelephant.com] does an amazing job, but being able to just reject it at the MTA level would be great.

    And for those that wish to converse with me, please make sure to use my GPG key [veridis.com] to do so (also available here [pilot-link.org] with detailed instructions).

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      All of it? That's gonna work well when you post random encrypted crap onto a mailing list and all the outlook users go 'wha..?'

      The problem with encrypted email is there are at least two competing major standards, and 99% of users don't have mail packages that understand either.. so you can't send it unless by prior agreement with your close friends. In practice this ends up as almost never.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hacker (14635)

        I could care less about my public mailing list messages, it's the other email that matters.

        Is DHS going to really put me on a watch list because of my contributions to Project Gutenberg, Plucker, the core Mediawiki code or dozens of my other contributions? Not likely.

        Are they going to put me on a watch list because of my political affiliations? My emails pointing out the egregious flaws in our administration? The methods people can use to personally protect themselves from an oppressive government? You

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dpilot (134227)
        Actually, the biggest problem with encrypted email is the number of people who now use webmail. How many people READ the service terms for webmail? Once your email remains on someone else's server, your privacy expectations become much less than even when it simply passes through. I fetch my email regularly, delete it from the server, and place it on my own IMAP server. In order to read my email, an intercept/duplicate decision has to be made prior to my fetching and deleting. With any mail it can be r
  • Not so fast (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bryanp (160522) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:07AM (#21239817)
    Whenever someone screams "They're violating our First Amendment rights!" about some private company being restrictive, I'm one of the first to explain that the 1st protects our right of free expression from Government interference. Converseley, lets say for the sake of argument that I have waived my 4th Amendment rights to my ISP in exchange for using their email service. This doesn't mean the .gov gets to abuse them. Hopefully a half sensible judge will toss this out.

    In the meantime I'll just be happy that while my ISP is in the US I don't use their email service. Good luck convincing the service I pay to use out of Norway to give up my email. ;)
  • Foreign emails too? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Peeloo (760936)
    Does it mean that if I use an US mail server, like gmail, from a foreign country, these mails can be wiretap too?
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:34AM (#21239969)

      Does it mean that if I use an US mail server, like gmail, from a foreign country, these mails can be wiretap too?
      In that case they don't even need this ruling, communications between individuals outside of the US may be legally intercepted by the US Government at any time the Federal Government believes there is national interest at stake and has the ability to do so. The whole NSA wiretapping scandal arose from the Bush Administration's interpretation that this legal authority extended to communications between individuals outside the US and individuals inside the US. I have not looked at this closely, but some of the articles I have seen suggest that the Bush Administration interpretation was also the Clinton Administration interpretation as well (and possibly going further back).
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:15AM (#21239869)
    How do you "waive a Constitutional right?", without anyone at least asking you if you mind waiving it?
    • by iknownuttin (1099999) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:42AM (#21240005)
      How do you "waive a Constitutional right?", without anyone at least asking you if you mind waiving it?

      If they did ask, I bet that most of the US population would just go along with it. Because, Civil Liberties is for "criminals to hide behind", "pinko hippies", "gays", "folks who don't want God anywhere", and any other issue that the ACLU and their sister organizations have taken up.

      Why, law abiding citizens do not need Civil Rights!

      This country and her Constitution is in trouble my friend.

  • by crovira (10242) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:26AM (#21239925) Homepage
    Why, I'll even forward it to any address they want.

  • by Chemisor (97276) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:30AM (#21239943)
    Today is the perfect time to discover enigmail [mozdev.org]!
  • by mrjb (547783) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:35AM (#21239973)
    ...if they're going to try to monitor all email, they will have to weed through 95% of spam *first*.
  • ...with a lengthy bill, a large cheque and a monkey in the office.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:43AM (#21240015) Homepage Journal
    The Constitution does not grant the Congress or the President the power to read email, so therefor, it is unconstitutional to do so. The 4th amendment affirms the rights of the people, and is not a limitation of them.
  • by giafly (926567) on Monday November 05, 2007 @07:46AM (#21240051)
    If you've ever agreed a typical EUA, seems to me you've waived at least two of these.
  • by eebra82 (907996) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:11AM (#21240217) Homepage
    The scary part is that this news is not on any major American news network, or at least with so small printing that I can't even find it. Why does it take a company from the UK to inform us that our own government is bullshitting us again?
  • by etherlad (410990) <ianwatson@SLACKW ... com minus distro> on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:14AM (#21241341) Homepage
    I don't care if the Feds can read my email. I don't use Email anymore. I upgraded to Gmail. That's, like, two versions better, right? I hope so; I think I missed the release of Fmail.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Monday November 05, 2007 @11:02AM (#21241869)
    I'm English so don't understand the US system. I always thought that the US constitution was the very foundation of US law. So please can someone explain:
    How is it that the US government can choose to violate the constitution? Isn't the whole point of the constitution that they are obliged to conform to it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bogjobber (880402)

      First off, IANAL, so this won't be entirely correct but here's the basic idea. The 4th amendment to the constitution say this:

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      How that has been interpreted is firstly that y

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

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