2006/02/10

All Your Emails Are Belong To Us

Hot on the heels of Google eating all of your files and making them available to the Feds, we have this additional nugget. The Justice Department has engineered a little end run around probable cause limitations on email searches by only asking for headers--when, from where, and to whom. Here's how it happened.
As part of a grand jury investigation that's still secret, the Justice Department asked a federal magistrate judge to approve monitoring of an unnamed person's e-mail correspondents.

The request had a twist: Instead of asking to eavesdrop on the contents of the e-mail messages, which would require some evidence of wrongdoing, prosecutors instead requested the identities of the correspondents. Also included in the request was header information like date and time and Internet address--but not subject lines.

The federal magistrate judge balked and asked the Justice Department to submit an additional brief to demonstrate that such a request would be legal.
What happened then is that Justice asked Federal judge Thomas Hogan to step in, and he did, authorizing the gathering of the emails headers based on federal wiretapping law.

So...BANG...just like that everything but the contents of your emails are now available to Federal prosecutors based on little more than a weak notion of "relevance" to an investigation. So I have to ask: Does anyone else have the weird feeling that this is reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings, "Please name all of the people you associate with"? I mean, what else are the headers good for but to widen the net?

6 Comments:

Let's conspire to screw with the Office of Homeland Security. If each and every one of us in the cyber world sends an email to Chertoff or whomever and says, "I'm a terrorist, arrest me." They wouldn't have time to check out all the voluntary terrorists, now would they?

Would you want the job of listening into every possible phone call to terrorists at the NSA? You couldn't pay me enough to screen those conversations. Sure, every so often you might get some good phone sex action, but mostly (about 99% perhaps) they are cellular conversations where one person says, "Dude, where you at?" and the other one saying, "hey, I'm starin' right at you. look over your right shoulder."
Now multiply that by every email discourse, and talk about a snoozer of an occupation.

I say, good enough for the boys in the W, Rove And co - let them at least be distracted by it. At least then, we know they aren't out tyring to find new rights of ours to trample.
look when aunt mary says bomb and al queda in the same sentence our tax dollars pay some jackass to sift thru all her convos and/or emails for weeks. Its a waste of time, effort and money. This shit is why they have no clue how to capture Bin Laden..I swear to god.

Sorry, I am just tired..does what I just said make any sense?
This shit is why they have no clue how to capture Bin Laden..I swear to god.

Sorry, I am just tired..does what I just said make any sense?


Dusty, I don't think this move by Justice is significant for the specifics of email titles that they might sift through. It's the fact they're grabbing the recipients addresses and IPs without demonstration of probable cause.

Basically it's a rehash, albeit an electronic version, of guilt by association.

Hey Windspike, how adventerous are you? I've been thinking about the idea of setting up a "honey-pot" t snair federal lurkers, just to see what gets their attention.
Bit by bit, they keep chipping away at freedom in the name of saving it.
Geez, and I was just going to add a link here at my blog. Now they can hold that against you (or me).That does it. Nothing but puff pieces and chili recipes for me from now on.
Lew, the slut in me says do it! Piss off the man, but the epicure in me says: Hey if you've got a good chili recipe, I'd love to have a copy. You can never get enough good chili, and here in Babylon by the Bay we get crap chili.

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