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Government Crime Privacy United States

US DOJ Say They Don't Need Warrants For E-Mail, Chats 457

gannebraemorr writes "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."
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US DOJ Say They Don't Need Warrants For E-Mail, Chats

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  • Second Amendment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:01PM (#43667579) Homepage Journal

    People keep claiming that they want to keep their guns because they need to protect themselves if their rights are taken away by the government...

    HELLO???? At what point do you start defending yourselves? Your rights are being slowly stripped away and have been over the course of the last 30 years, and nobody does anything?

    Even when the Stormtroopers are patrolling the streets, and curfew after dark is in place and people are afraid to speak against the government, or talk on their phones, with your neighbors turning each other in for 'treason'... you'll all still be sitting on your guns waiting for the government to take away your rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:03PM (#43667593)

    "Pentagon spokesman George Little said, 'We have repeatedly stated that . . . our forces were unable to reach it in time to intervene to stop the attacks.' That is true only if the Pentagon is incapable of improvising. If you see people in a burning house, you do your best to help immediately; you dont wait for the fire department to respond in a normal manner. If called upon, the Marines on Sigonella would have gathered whoever was on hand and piled into one of a dozen military planes parked at the base. The Benghazi airport 90 minutes away was secure; CIA operatives were standing on the runway, because they had improvised by hiring a plane and flying in from the embassy in Tripoli, 400 miles away. A fighter jet could have refueled at that airport, with the CIA providing cover. Instead, the military ordered four Special Operations soldiers at the Tripoli embassy not to fly to Benghazi and join the CIA team."

  • TFA highlights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:04PM (#43667607) Homepage
    things like policies on "unopened" email older than 180 days. Are we talking about the 'seen' flag being set? or the file being opened? yeah, of course government law enforcement agencies want the power to snoop on this kind of stuff but it sounds like theyre doing it without a warrant to get around the fact that most judges are completely ignorant about email and electronic communication.
    then again judges have ruled in the past the FBI does not have this kind of broad jurisdiction to warrantlessly read email, so maybe they really are just ignoring the rulings?

    either way, its been proven by multiple school shootings and a recent bombing that spy-on-the-whole-country technology is worthless. it doesnt help anyone prevent or prove crime, it only enables precrime and thoughtcrime to be used as fodder for law enforcement careers and budget proposals.
  • by judoguy ( 534886 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:07PM (#43667641) Homepage
    "And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more - we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward."

    Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

  • by bignetbuy ( 1105123 ) <dirrtygsharp.outlook@com> on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:09PM (#43667659) Journal

    Cue the flamebait accusations....

    I'm can't disagree with the U.S. Government's position on this one. If data is sent via the Internet, the world's biggest public network, and isn't encrypted, then why should anybody need anything to read it? Unreasonable search and seizure doesn't apply when one person is talking to another person on a street corner...or on the world's biggest public network.

    Encrypt your messages and then an argument can be made for 4th Amendment violations.

  • Re:Second Amendment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:10PM (#43667671)

    Even when the Stormtroopers are patrolling the streets, and curfew after dark is in place and people are afraid to speak against the government, or talk on their phones, with your neighbors turning each other in for 'treason'... you'll all still be sitting on your guns waiting for the government to take away your rights.

    Or, as Boston proved, they'll be cheering in the streets.

    Hell, Boston proved that the Fourth Amendment is no obstacle to searching people's houses without a warrant. Not only did the people there let them do it, but they were happy to let them do it.

    Of course, Boston is a disarmed population, so maybe it would be different if the populace was armed - but I doubt it. All you have to do is cry "terrorist!" and the people will be happy to shut down a city to catch an unarmed injured teenager.

    If you ever needed to see why we need to take more action to defend our freedoms from the terrorists that are our government, Boston demonstrated quite clearly. The marathon bombings were nothing compared to the police action that followed.

  • Re:Second Amendment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:13PM (#43667689) Homepage Journal

    So... as long as the government comes after dissidents, one at a time, it's OK. As long as your rights are taken away, one at a time, it's OK. As long as you are oppressed SLOWLY, that's fine. Face it. America is sheeple. No one is ever going to take up arms against the government, and if someone does, he's easily dismissed as a kook by the media, and killed in a hail of gunfire and we all cheer on TV that we've been "saved" from this guy by the long arm of oppression.

  • Re:Fourth Amendment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @03:46PM (#43668079)

    Of course, but a warrant is required for that.

  • by bbelt16ag ( 744938 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:16PM (#43668395) Homepage Journal
    "it is not the breaking of a man's doors and the rummaging of his drawers that constitutes the essence of the offense; but it is the invasion oh his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty and private property, where that right has never been forfeited by his conviction of some public offense" Quote from Justice Joseph P. Bradley
  • Re:Land of the free (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:22PM (#43668457)

    They don't need to be able to pronounce Diffie-Hellman. GP said that the attachment would even be hidden.

    All of us know the reason why S/MIME, GnuPG, and GP's scheme will never be implemented is because of Outlook and other proprietary clients that make dealing with those technologies a royal pain in the ass even for technical users. I remember Outlook 2003 had an implementation of S/MIME, but it failed the "just works" test badly.

    Now, I remember using KMail when KDE used to be good in the 3.x days. Integration with S/MIME and GnuPG were practically seamless. The question to ask is not whether end users should need to know what Diffie-Hellman even is, but why major vendors like Microsoft and Google have absolutely no interest in supporting these technologies in a seamless, under-the-hood way.

    Hell, at work, we have a proprietary software package that handles outbound email. The only encryption it supports looks like some piss-poor ROT13 with XOR implementation, and you need to install a desktop Windows-only program to decrypt the mail. This vendor knows that businesses like the one I work for not only have to deal with HIPAA ePHI, but we're now regulated by the HITECH act. Where's any initiative from them to even offer S/MIME or some kind of web-based message center that isn't a complete joke? There is none.

    Fortunately, TLS is becoming more common for server-to-server relay, but there seems to be no big business interest in enabling the encryption to happen on the end user's desktop. I'd get my tinfoil hat out, but I have a feeling that the answer is that it just isn't a big priority for these vendors because the end user isn't even aware of the problem. We can get our green URL bars for Verisign-approved shopping carts, but there's no interest in that green bar I used to see in KMail that told me that an email had been encrypted and signature verified as having been sent by who I thought sent it.

    Maybe most folks think that as long as they don't send credit card info over email, it's good enough. Who knows.

  • Re:Fourth Amendment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suutar ( 1860506 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:57PM (#43668815)
    I wonder what would happen if I used the "use own key" provision for CrashPlan and kept the key on a piece of paper in a safety deposit box. Under this doctrine they can get to the encrypted form, but with "use own key", CrashPlan (in theory) can't decrypt the data, so they need the key... which is somewhere that requires a warrant. (Or at least is going to require a judge to tell me that it doesn't, which I would tend to count as close enough to a court order for jazz.) Seems like that could get me something reasonably close to warrant protection. The downside of course is that switching to "use own key" is going to mean re-uploading all the backed up data.
  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @05:27PM (#43669143)

    That is the solution to the entire Constitution. Just redefine all the words in it. Define reasonable as whatever the government wants and you are good to go. Hell, Clinton redefined the word "is." Gotta love it.

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @08:07PM (#43670737) Journal

    However, any law which is used to curtail the right to keep and bear arms and is upheld by the courts can be used as a precedent for future courts to rule on similar laws applying to other constitutionally guaranteed rights.

    Which is how we got to where we are now: "free speech zones" became "free gun zones", "I know it when I see it" obscenity became "I know it when I see it" scary-looking-rifles, and "sex offender registries" are heading towards "gun owner registries".

    We're already nearing the bottom of the slippery slope and seem to be picking up speed.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.