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S. Carolina Supreme Court: Leaving Email In the Cloud Isn't Electronic Storage 112

New submitter Ibhuk writes "I leave my email stored online, as do many modern email users, particularly for services like Gmail with its ever-expanding storage limit. I don't bother downloading every email I receive. According to the South Carolina Supreme Court, this doesn't qualify as electronic storage. This means most email users are not protected by the Stored Communications Act. All your emails are fair game, so be careful what you write. From the article: 'This new decision creates a split with existing case law (Theofel v. Farey-Jones) as decided in a 2004 case decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision found that an e-mail message that was received, read, and left on a server (rather than being deleted) did constitute storage "for purposes of backup protection," and therefore was also defined as being kept in "electronic storage." Legal scholars point to this judicial split as yet another reason why the Supreme Court (and/or Congress) should take up the issue of the Stored Communications Act.'"
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S. Carolina Supreme Court: Leaving Email In the Cloud Isn't Electronic Storage

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  • ...because... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:07PM (#41634313) Homepage Journal
    ...the could doesn't use servers, right?
  • Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theedgeofoblivious ( 2474916 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:10PM (#41634337)

    This is an instance in which the court is just wrong.

    The fact that they don't understand that it's electronically stored has no effect on whether it is. Courts can make all of the rulings in the world but if something objectively is or is not then it just objectively is or is not and regardless of court rulings.

  • Re:Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:11PM (#41634349)

    No, the Court decided correctly.

    It's the law (written decades before the concept of web mail) which is archaic.

  • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:27PM (#41634493)

    The ECPA refers to a defintion of "electronic storage" contained in the Wiretap Act (18 USC 2510, item (17) []) which was never intended to encompass cloud email:

    (17) "electronic storage" means--
          (A) any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof; and
          (B) any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for purposes of backup protection of such communication;

    The court logically concluded that if the only copy of the received email is stored in a cloud email account, that copy is not stored for purposes of backup protection of such communication.

    If you are one of those individuals who joyfully cries "RAID is not a backup," then you essentially agree with this court.

    A court, even a Supreme Court, is not empowered to fix "bad statutes" by rewriting them. That pesky separation of powers doctrine requires that Congress pass legistlation to fix the defect, and the President sign that legislation, and no amount of wailing about the illogic of what the law "should be" versus what it is will change that requirement.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:43PM (#41634651)

    the whole CONCEPT is absurd!

    my communication is private. it does not matter where its placed, how long it sits there or how many distributed copies I have.



  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:47PM (#41634689)

    Yes, because the 4th amendment authorizes the government to go after your stuff as soon as it's 180 days old.


    Government is out of control. The only possible reason people don't see this is because they're frighteningly stupid.

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