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Thread: No privacy for e-mail: US court

  1. #1
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    May 2002
    Huson Mt.

    No privacy for e-mail: US court

    A US appeals court has ruled that a company that provides e-mail service has the right to copy and read any message bound for its customers.

    The US Court of Appeals in Massachusetts said that because e-mail is stored, even momentarily, in computers before it is routed to its recipients, it is not subject to laws that apply to eavesdropping of telephone calls, which are continuously in transit.

    As a result, companies or employers that own the computers are free to intercept messages before they are received by customers, it said.

    Peter B Swire, an Ohio State University Law Professor who was a privacy advisor in the Clinton administration, said
    that the ruling means that an e-mail provider "can intercept all your e-mail with impunity, and can read them and use them for his own business purposes."

    Intercepted e-mail decision chilling


    A federal appeals court ruling that absolved a businessman from wiretapping charges sets a troubling precedent for modern - and private - communications.

    Branford C. Councilman, former vice president of Interloc, an Internet company, was charged with wiretapping violations for ordering employees to develop a software program that allowed his company to read the private e-mails of Interloc's subscribers. Of interest to Councilman and his company were incoming e-mails from Amazon.com to Interloc subscribers who were dealers of rare books. The government alleged that Interloc tried to exploit the information it gleaned to "develop a list of books, learn about competitors and attain a commercial advantage."

    Councilman's defense claimed that he didn't violate the Wiretap Act because his employees spied upon messages in "electronic storage." The Wiretap Act protects individuals from having others listen to their conversations, but offers very little protection, for instance, to recorded telephone conversations or taped messages.

    Those provisions, unfortunately, are a miserable set of standards for modern communications.

    "It puts all of our electronic communications in jeopardy - voice mail, e-mail, you name it," said Jerry Berman, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology. "I think it violates the letter and spirit of the statute."

    It violates common sense, as well.

    If our e-mails are fair game - open to be read for almost any reason by those who we've contracted to pass them from sender to recipient - then why isn't the U.S. Postal Service allowed to tear open every envelope that passes through the post office, just to see what's inside?

    Because that's an invasion of both the sender and the receiver's privacy, that's why. In fact, in most cases, opening another person's mail is a crime.

    So why should an Internet service provider, or anyone else other than a law enforcement agency that has obtained a warrant, be allowed to peruse the future contents of your inbox as each message passes through their control?

    There's no viable reason why they should be.

    We as Americans are entitled to many freedoms, including speech and association, not to mention an understood right to much privacy. Tuesday's ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals puts all of those freedoms in a precarious position.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
    Author Unknown

  2. #2
    I kinda saw this coming, so im not that suprised, yeah it sucks ! Well hate it... i think there's gonna be a riot about privacy rights now ! Wait and see i say !

    When the internet became public, privacy got destroyed !

  3. #3
    Master-Jedi-Pimps0r & Moderator thehorse13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Washington D.C. area
    Although this does suck, there is a simple and elegant solution to this: Encryption.
    Our scars have the power to remind us that our past was real. -- Hannibal Lecter.
    Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful. -- John Wooden

  4. #4

    good idea TH13, people, download one now !

  5. #5
    oldie ric-o's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Peter B Swire, an Ohio State University Law Professor who was a privacy advisor in the Clinton administration, said
    that the ruling means that an e-mail provider "can intercept all your e-mail with impunity, and can read them and use them for his own business purposes."
    Wow, that sucks for home users. I can understand companies being able to do this but NOT ISPs.

    I can't believe that an ISP could do the above in BOLD and get away with it...even the PATRIOT act requires some reason. Expect more legal challenges.

  6. #6
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Why would anyone think that clear text open transmission of data through hundreds of privately owned computers would be private? Ever?
    West of House
    You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
    There is a small mailbox here.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Yes, it sucks no its no surprising and yes thehorse gave a good solution but the question is who has the time to read the emails going through an ISP?

    I was going to ask what can be gained then I realized a lot of dim bulbs e-mail information to should be kept private.

    Just my thoughts. Its also possible that congress might address this since lets face it they will not want someone reading mails.

    Just some random slightly connected thoughts.

    If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What\'s more, you deserve to be hacked.
    -- former White House cybersecurity adviser Richard Clarke

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