Feeds

US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account

Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A US judge has ruled that the Feds can have access to a Gmail user’s entire account to search for evidence in a money laundering case, a decision which clashes with at least two other recent rulings on email privacy.

New York District Judge Gabriel Gorenstein said in an opinion that email accounts were the same as hard drives as far as the law was concerned, which means they can be seized in their entirety when the cops have a warrant.

The judge issued the opinion, which explains his decision to allow prosecutors access to the Gmail account in the criminal case, because it conflicts with at least two other recent rulings. Other judges have previously said that handing out sweeping warrants was giving government agencies too much access to far too many emails, instead of just the relevant ones.

Gorenstein cited two other rulings in particular: one in the District of Columbia, and one in Kansas. In Washington DC, judge John Facciola rejected a warrant application to seize the contents of an Apple email account belonging to a defence contractor in a bribery case, while in Kansas the judge denied warrants for emails and other info stored by Google, Verizon, Yahoo!, Skype and GoDaddy in a case regarding a stolen computer.

In both cases the warrant applications were rejected because of a lack of limits on what the authorities would sweep up by gaining access to entire email accounts.

However, other cases have gone the other way. Earlier this year, the same New York court told Microsoft it had to hand over email information stored in a data centre in Ireland. Redmond has argued against the decision and is appealing against it because the data is held overseas. Apple, Verizon, Cisco and other tech firms, along with lobby groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have filed briefs supporting Microsoft’s position.

In his ruling, Gorenstein pointed out that very few criminals keep all their illegal activity information in a folder marked “drug records”.

“Courts have long recognised the practical need for law enforcement to exercise dominion over documents not within the scope of the warrant in order to determine whether they fall within the warrant,” he said.

“In the case of electronic evidence, which typically consists of enormous amounts of undifferentiated information and documents, courts have recognised that a search for documents or files responsive to a warrant cannot possibly be accomplished during an on-site search.”

The judge said that courts already allowed cops to seize and search hard drives, meaning email accounts shouldn’t be any different. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.