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IRS Can Read Your Email Without Warrant 332

kodiaktau writes "The ACLU has issued a FOIA request to determine whether the IRS gets warrants before reading taxpayers' email. The request is based on the antiquated Electronic Communication Protection Act — federal agencies can and do request and read email that is over 180 days old. The IRS response can be found at the ACLU's website. The IRS asserts that it can and will continue to make warrantless requests to ISPs to track down tax evasion. Quoting: 'The documents the ACLU obtained make clear that, before Warshak, it was the policy of the IRS to read people’s email without getting a warrant. Not only that, but the IRS believed that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to email at all. A 2009 "Search Warrant Handbook" from the IRS Criminal Tax Division’s Office of Chief Counsel baldly asserts that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." Again in 2010, a presentation by the IRS Office of Chief Counsel asserts that the "4th Amendment Does Not Protect Emails Stored on Server" and there is "No Privacy Expectation" in those emails.'"
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IRS Can Read Your Email Without Warrant

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  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @03:41PM (#43415181) Homepage

    With this kind of "No Expectation of Privacy" thing that comes up (re: emails, phones messages, etc.) -- Hypothetically, what if someone did a scientific survey of U.S. residents and asked: "Do you expect that your stored email messages are private from the government? Do expect that the text messages stored in your phone are private from the government?". Then would there be any possibility that the results of such a survey would be usable in a future court case to knock down such foolishness?

  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @04:47PM (#43415961) Homepage

    For years us folks who run networks have been telling users not to write anything in an email that they would not put on the back of a postcard.

    Problem is these days the kids don't know what a postcard is.

    People not so warned, however, may have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" based on what they have and have not been told about email and their ISP service, the same way a person walking around in the nude in their apartment does as long as they aren't standing in front of an open window. And no, fine print in the terms of use doesn't cut it in today's busy world, no more than a landlord busting in with a camera rolling on our nudist would be able to get over on pointing to the part of the lease that says they can enter to check the fire alarms. The IRS might lose this one if it gets taken to court.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.