Google and an alliance of privacy groups have come to Yahoo’s aid by helping the Web portal fend off a broad request from the U.S. Department of Justice for e-mail messages, CNET has learned.
In a brief filed Tuesday afternoon, the coalition says a search warrant signed by a judge is necessary before the FBI or other police agencies can read the contents of Yahoo Mail messages–a position that puts those companies directly at odds with the Obama administration.
Yahoo has been quietly fighting prosecutors’ requests in front of a federal judge in Colorado, with many documents filed under seal. Tuesday’s brief from Google and the other groups aims to buttress Yahoo’s position by saying users who store their e-mail in the cloud enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
“Society expects and relies on the privacy of e-mail messages just as it relies on the privacy of the telephone system,” the friend-of-the-court brief says. “Indeed, the largest e-mail services are popular precisely because they offer users huge amounts of computer disk space in the Internet ‘cloud’ within which users can warehouse their e-mails for perpetual storage.”
The coalition also includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, and TRUSTe.
If the federal government believes someone is a bad guy..aka a terrorist…then they can get a fucking warrant to comb through the individuals internet history. It’s a no-friggin-brainer. This is called Due Process for christ’s sake.
The Digital Due Process Coalition is trying to level the playing field. They want police to be able to obtain private communications (and the location of Americans’ cell phones) only when armed with a search warrant, per the Cnet article. Updates to the article are below.
Update 9 a.m. PDT Wednesday: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a statement on the case, with EFF attorney Kevin Bankston saying: “The government is trying to evade federal privacy law and the Constitution.” Yahoo’s brief is also worth noting. Like the coalition’s filing, it argues that “users have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mails” and says the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant to peruse stored messages. And it confirms that prosecutors want “all e-mail” in the targeted Yahoo Mail accounts, even if it’s not relevant to the investigation or could include documents protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Update 9:30 a.m. PDT Wednesday: Yahoo has sent over a statement saying: “Yahoo values our trusted relationships with our users and works to protect their privacy while at the same time fulfilling our legal responsibilities. Yahoo’s filing in this matter is a public document. Beyond what is contained in that document, Yahoo has no comment on the specifics of the case.”
Stay tuned kiddies…the shit will get waist deep…count on it.