E-mails Protected by Fourth Amendment Right of Privacy
Description Appeals court upheld an injunction against government search of all e-mails of a person
suspected of committing certain crimes. As e-mails are protected by the Fourth
Amendment, investigators must obtain a warrant to seize e-mails expected to be linked
to the alleged criminal activity.
Key Words Fourth Amendment; Criminal Investigation; Warrants; E-mail; Privacy
The government was investigating Warshak for evidence of money laundering and mail
and wire fraud. Investigators got a court order requiring Warshak’s internet service
provider (ISP) to turn over to government agents all of Warshak’s account information,
including details of e-mails he received from outsiders about their orders and bank
account information. The ISP could not tell Warshak about this. A year later, when the
government let Warshak know his e-mails had been read, he moved to have the order
to the ISP quashed and an order to prohibit access to his e-mails without a warrant. He
contended the original order violated his Fourth Amendment rights and the Stored
Communications Act (SCA). The district court issued an injunction against the
government. It appealed.
Warshak v. U.S., 490 F.3d 455 (6th Cir., 2007)
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