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Petraeus Case Illustrates FBI Authority To Read Email 228

An anonymous reader writes "Back in April, we discussed how the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act says email that has resided on a server for more than six months can be considered abandoned. The recent investigation of General Petraeus brings this issue to light again, and perhaps to a broader audience. Under current U.S. law, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. Do you know anyone these days who doesn't have IMAP accounts with 6+-month-old mail on them?"
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Petraeus Case Illustrates FBI Authority To Read Email

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:57PM (#41970231)

    This is why I delete my old emails every 3 months.

    Of course, when you're living in "The Cloud©," who's to say that the "Delete" button really deletes your email, and doesn't just shift it off to some secondary storage cache where it sits undisturbed for years until the FBI decides it wants to read it?

  • Public servants (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhlowe ( 1803290 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:02PM (#41970331)
    Patraeus is a public servant. The military and public servants agree to adhere to a higher standard of ethics when they take their jobs. Patraeus is said to have sent 20 to 30,000 pages of emails to this lady.. What on earth was he sending her?

    While its probably a good idea to erase your personally incriminating emails that you wrote 6 or more months ago (or a week ago!), at some point we want our CIA personnel to not be acting like idiots.

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:08PM (#41970431)
    Petraeus was the head of our CIA and couldn't keep his own affair secret? If he can't camp a little action off on the side without getting caught, I sure don't want him in charge of our country's Department of Spies.
  • Re:Public servants (Score:2, Insightful)

    by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:13PM (#41970499)

    She was his biographer.

    Public servants should be held to a higher standard. Unfortunately it is rare that it actually occurs.

  • GPG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:16PM (#41970553) Homepage
    For anything interesting - enough said.
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:19PM (#41970605)

    Keep in mind that if you read your email using your work computer, then your employer can read it too - don't trust SSL to keep it private, your employer can transparently decrypt the SSL stream and re-encrypt using their own cert which your (well, your employer's) computer will trust.

    If you want to keep your private email private, only read it on your own device, don't trust anyone else's device.

  • Re:No Crime here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:25PM (#41970731)

    Anyone suspected of cheating on their wife is fair game apparently.

    No. Just people with security clearances who might be blackmailed as they try to hide their behavior, or people with security clearances who demonstrate that their promises are not kept.Secret affair = not worthy of public trust.

  • Re:Public servants (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:31PM (#41970851)

    Patraeus is a public servant. The military and public servants agree to adhere to a higher standard of ethics when they take their jobs.

    IMO, that isn't even the real problem. The CIA, in particular, doesn't care two squats about your dirty secrets, as long as you don't care about them either. The problem with a long-term affair, relative to the CIA, is that the people involved (by the very nature of having gone to those extents to keep it a secret) are now potentially able to be compromised by someone via blackmail.

    You could have a long track record of photos of you snorting blow off a shaved donkeys ass while giving it a reach around, and the CIA won't care as long as you're not embarrassed about it.

  • Re:No Crime here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:32PM (#41970877)

    My 1 year old daughter can be deceitful. He did nothing wrong in the course of his duties. The only semi-plausible argument is that the situation could have put in in a position to be blackmailed; which, incidentally was the logic used to deny homosexuals security clearances for decades, effectively blacklisting them from several lucrative industries.

  • Re:No Crime here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:35PM (#41970923)

    The problem with cheating on your wife implies that you can be deceitful. In a position where he stands as pretty much the highest man on the pole, you wouldn't want him to deceive you.

    It's more than that, if you're in any job that requires security clearance and you are keeping secrets from your employer then you can probably be blackmailed by foreign interests. One step in getting clearance is to spill EVERYTHING that can be used against you so that it can't be.

    Here we're talking about the director of the CIA who is a former senior military officer having an affair. So VERY high level clearance and VERY big secret. Petraeus was an international incident waiting to happen because he's walking with untold numbers of Top Secret info in his head and lying to the CIA.

  • US Constitution... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:40PM (#41971019) Homepage Journal

    They do not have authority that is approved by the guidelines the Founders of this country created.
    What it means is they are violating the founders intents and any supposed law in violation are not real laws but fabrications of distortions backed by nothing more than brute force using abstract words to make themselves feel better about it.

    There are many violations of the founders intents. The Declaration of Independence even acknowledges the probability of corrupt government and the founders in doing so gave us recognition of our rights and duty to put off bad government and replace it with what the founders intended. They even provided us with real life example.

    So No they do not have the Authority to try and take advantage of the short comings of technology that they perceive. Especially when the Email account is still actively being used. Being used does mean clearly that it is not an abandon mail.

  • Re:No Crime here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @03:21PM (#41972735) Homepage Journal

    Anyone suspected of possibly presenting some kind of unknown, unnamed threat, that may or may not challenge the status quo, or even exist for that matter, is fair game apparently.


    Brave new world, Freedom == Slavery, all that jazz.

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