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Feds Shy Away From Raiding Email Without Warrant

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the there-would-be-these-limitations dept.

Privacy 71

nonprofiteer writes "In December, a federal judge ruled that the 4th amendment applies to email and that the feds cannot go after it without a warrant. (We have Smilin' Bob to thank for that.) Though the federal judge's decision only applies to the four states in his jurisdiction, it looks like federal agencies are applying it nationally. An internal email written by the IRS general counsel cites the law and says that its collectors can no longer get the contents of suspected tax cheats' email by sending letters to their ISPs, though it can get non-content information, like who they email and how they pay for their accounts."

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Explore every maze! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37751784)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 1995, a little boy named Tom was playing with his toys in his living room. After about 15 minutes of playing, a tiny little man walked up to him and said, "May I explore the mazes of your bootyass?" Tom, surprised by this sudden occurrence, remained speechless.

After thirty seconds passed, the little man asked the exact same question that he asked previously. This time, Tom asked the little man why he would want to do such a thing. The little man said, "Because I want to explore every maze inside your bootyass." Tom, sensing no bad intentions from the little man, nodded and said, "Well, all right. But no tickle! If there's any tickle, I'll smoosh ya!" The little man nodded his head and was sucked into Tom's bootyass as if his bootyass was a gigantic spaghetti noodle.

Tom was beginning to have second thoughts about letting the little man explore the mazes of his bootyass, but he just shrugged them off. He thought, "What harm could allowing that nice, charismatic little man explore the mazes of my bootyass bring? He was so nice, charismatic, and thoughtful. I made the right choice."

However, soon enough, he discovered that he was terribly wrong. Suddenly, he was looking into his own bootyass as if he was looking through a security camera. Inside, he spotted the little man and numerous round doorways made out of bootyass; it looked like an endless maze. To Tom's surprise, the little man suddenly transformed into a red toy carrying a gigantic sack over his shoulders and began walking towards the smallest doorway of them all! "That sack will never fit through that doorway," Tom thought.

The toy continued onwards, and eventually the sack got stuck inside the small doorway in Tom's bootyass. The toy, visibly angry, began trying to force the sack through the doorway! This inflicted tremendous amounts of tickle upon Tom's bootyass! The toy then began kicking the sides of Tom's bootyass out of frustration while laughing the entire time. Even more tickle was inflicted upon Tom's bootyass. Just when Tom thought that nothing worse could possibly happen to him, the toy forced the sack right through the doorway and went flying deeper into the mazes of Tom's bootyass and crashed into the side of it! This inflicted more tickle upon Tom's bootyass than ever before!

Now that you have read this (even a single word of it), the very same toy, carrying his giant sack (which should fit through no doorway), will explore every single maze inside your bootyass (thereby inflicting major amounts of tickle upon it)! To prevent this from happening, copy and paste this entire comment and then repost it as a comment three times.

Implying.. (0)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751786)

The CIA wont just do it anyway.

Re:Implying.. (3, Informative)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751954)

The CIA is for international (or at least not on US soil) work.

Re:Implying.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752174)

since when have that stopped them?

Re:Implying.. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752606)

That was the big changes which took place post-9/11 and the reason for the creation of homeland security. The creation of homeland security allows for these agencies to violate their charters; which includes spying and violating protections afforded under the US Constitutions. Factually, creation of homeland security is a massive step toward totalitarianism. And while frequently cited for reasons of hyperbole, in this case, none applies; take a hard look at the history of Nazi Germany. Post-9/11 literally put all of the pieces in place which exactly mirrored pre-Nazi Germany. The final piece which makes it complete was Obama's federal violation of law selling guns to criminals and then passing legislation which saves us from Obama but requires all firearm transforms to be documented. And as we know from Katrina, exactly as was done in Germany, they now have a list of exactly who they should steal (I say steal because it aptly describes; as a large portion of these stolen weapons, stolen by state and FEDERAL troops, were never returned) weapons from before they declare martial law.

Obama hates guns and had made his administration violate federal law to begin stealing them. If you believe in the US Constitution, and are of good faith, it is literally impossible to support Obama.

And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, shame on you. Go read about Gun Walker and Fast and Furious. Both of which are federal crimes acted by federal employees whereby no one has been punished (except literally, the whistle blowers) and several have been promoted. Immediately after, new anti-gun laws were passed by Obama, specifically citing these horrible crimes; as at the time Obama's violation of federal law wasn't yet public.

Honestly, the closest comparison in US history is Nixon and Water gate. Its shameful and most media is not covering it.

Re:Implying.. (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753180)

+1

Re:Implying.. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752890)

That is what they want you to believe.

Re:Implying.. (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753416)

> The CIA is for international (or at least not on US soil) work.

Yes, that's the original charter. Who enforces that now?

Already Have It (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37751800)

They already have the email traffic, so why bother getting permission to look at them again?

Re:Already Have It (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751960)

Perhaps you believe that the USG operates or owns the internet... they don't.

Re:Already Have It (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752276)

Implying they don't use it to spy on anyone and everyone.

Re:Already Have It (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752298)

No, AT&T does.. same difference

Re:Already Have It (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752318)

Yep, the Corporations own and operate it.

Thing is, if the Gov haters ever succeed in getting rid of Government, the Corporations are likely to become the defacto Government (who else otherwise?) but not be restrained by the Constitution and pesky laws like this and the FOIA.

Re:Already Have It (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752482)

but not be restrained by the Constitution and pesky laws like this and the FOIA.

You have evidence that the government is restrained by the Constitution and the FOIA?

Re:Already Have It (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37754108)

Oh, not this bullshit again. The constitution is a living document. This generation is simply interpreting it according to the times. Get real! Freaking originalist teabaggers...

Re:Already Have It (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37762186)

You have evidence that the government is restrained by the Constitution and the FOIA?

They're definitely more restrained than corporations are, otherwise you wouldn't have this story. Quote:

The judge declared the clause in the Stored Communications Act that allows this unconstitutional. Though it was a 6th Circuit decision, and thus technically only meant to apply to the four states in that higher courtâ(TM)s jurisdiction, the IRS plans to comply with it nationally.

The US Gov has to at least pretend to respect the constitution as long as the voters and Judges consider it important enough. And they still do or pretend to in many cases.

In contrast, from what I understand of US laws, if the corporations ever own everything you'd all be screwed.

If people think that voters can't vote "properly" for the few options every few years, what makes them think that people can vote "properly" with their wallets for the few options every day?

The problem is not government nor quantity of government. The problem is quality of government. And ultimately that depends on the quality of the voters. Voter education is important.

Re:Already Have It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752602)

And if the corporation haters succeed in giving unlimited power to the government because of some misguided belief that ever-more-complicated regulation benefits anyone but lawyers, who wins then? The government has already demonstrated it cares not one whit about the Constitution. I'm not sure how making it even more powerful is going to change that for the better, although I'm sure in your beneficent wisdom you know exactly how perfect everything can be if only we all do it your way. You and Gore Vidal.

Re:Already Have It (1)

imric (6240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753054)

And if the corporation lovers succeed in giving unlimited power to the business because of some misguided belief that the market self-regulates, who wins then? Corporations have already demonstrated that they care not one whit about the Constitution, and less about their workers. I'm not sure how making them even more powerful is going to change that for the better, although I'm sure in your beneficent wisdom you know exactly how perfect everything can be if only we all do it your way. You and Ron Paul.

There. FTFY.

Didn't like it? Good. Moderation, not extremism and not fundamentalism, is where the answer that best suits the nation, it's people and it's future, lies. If not, the cycle will simply begin again as you take the nation back to a place where workers have no protection from corporate abuse, children starve (only this time in ignorance, since the right hates education so) and the market will have to again adjust though voting and regulation until we get back to this point with no ground gained. If we survive this time around, that is.

Re:Already Have It (2)

StinkiePhish (891084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752008)

The government seeing the email is one thing; using it in court as admissible evidence is another. While other agencies can use other so-called reasons to intercept, analyze, and read email without a warrant, the IRS does not usually claim "state secrets" when prosecuting a tax fraud case.

Redundancy (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753456)

The government seeing the email is one thing; using it in court as admissible evidence is another

And they would bother doing this "court" thing ... why?

a little nudge (1)

AtomicAdam (959649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751826)

Thank bob for a little nudge in the right direction for online privacy.

Good to hear (2, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751864)

It's good to hear the US government isn't fighting the courts tooth and nail whenever there's a judgement against them. I with the same were true in Canada. The Harper government is hell bent on getting around a number of court orders on a variety of policies. They have their vision, and nothing will stop them -- not the will of the people, not the recommendations of scientists and experts, not statistics, and certainly not the objections of people in foreign nations (including the US. Thanks to the Texas conservatives for supporting the Canadian public's view that a prison state is not the way to go.)

The Harper government thinks a majority is a dictatorship.

I refuse to call it the Canadian government because there is nothing Canadian about the way it's treating the farmers, the stewardesses, the postal union, the medical cannabis patients, ...

Re:Good to hear (3, Insightful)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751952)

It is good to see such optimism. They are taking an "official" position they will adhere to the ruling. In practice, you will see the abuses continue. Why? Because the government is not being held accountable.

Put the offending government employee in prison and defund/disband the agency. Then you will see them behave. With no accountability, nothing will change.

In the end it is our fault. We get the government that we tolerate.

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order.

I agree with your points and would add one (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760078)

They will adhere to the ruling, but one thing jumps out at me. They allow "non-content" information which includes who you email. How is that not content? Paying method is obviously not content and IRS related clearly. However, allowing to see WHO I email seems a slippery slope. It seems it opens the door to guilt by association warrants. Maybe I'm wrong.

Off topic? Not to Canadians (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753264)

I fail to see how contrasting the Canadian governments reaction to court rulings with US reactions is off topic. SlashDot is international. Of course I'm going to put a Canadian spin on things.

Re:Off topic? Not to Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37754004)

A Canadian spin is always off topic, eh?

Re:Off topic? Not to Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37754062)

Unfortunately Canadians have become American puppets. The Harper/Conservative government just helps to solidify the American exploitation of natural resources.

Let Mark do it. (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751868)

The FBI will have to get the goods on people from Mark Zuckerberg, he's got the dirt on everyone.

Re:Let Mark do it. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753272)

Wasn't there a Law & Order episode about that?

Heisenberg is off the hook for now (0)

guacamole (24270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751882)

Walter White can live in peace until the Season 5 starts.

PGP, GPG, etc. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37751896)

We've had a technical solution to this for over a decade which, for some reason, has never become a standard. It's kind of sad when a legal solution beats a technical one.

Why do we still allow our correspondence to be transmitted in plain text?

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37751970)

Because encryption adds a great deal of complexity which is, under most circumstances, unnecessary. On the wire, most eMail is encrypted anyways (SSL) so really the only advantage of GPG is when you don't trust your eMail provider. In which case, why not just use a different one?

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752022)

The contents aren't encrypted at each node, just in between. So you have to trust your email provider and every node on the chain.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37755872)

The contents aren't encrypted at each node, just in between. So you have to trust your email provider and every node on the chain

But what do you mean by "every node"? If you mean every router , then you are wrong, Email is encrypted on the paths between email servers. You have to trust the email servers. Later, users may then download the email over a non-encrypted session, which destroys the point of using SSL when the email is transmitted between mail servers.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751976)

Because none of these are easy and free. Even really easy and cheep would be good, but really easy would require something like storing your private key on a server so it can be replaced when you delete it.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37756592)

Even really easy and cheep would be good

Twitter is good now?

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751986)

Why do you allow your correspondence to be transmitted in plain text? No one is forcing you.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (2)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752018)

?Why do we still allow our correspondence to be transmitted in plain text? Because the encryption technology currently available to the average user is pretty much useless if the NSA or other government agency takes an interest in your e-mail. This doesn't mean a user shouldn't use encryption but believing it is 100% effective is misleading.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37754480)

Because the encryption technology currently available to the average user is pretty much useless if the NSA or other government agency takes an interest in your e-mail..

THIS is misleading. Maximum strength PGP encryption is virtually uncrackable, first of all. Second, the laws concerning cracking encrypted files are different from the authority necessary to get emails without a court order. I fault the courts here - make the court order process easier, but never, ever let anything be done without the approval of the justice system.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758116)

If any agency like the CIA or NSA takes an interest in a persons e-mail communications the justice system will not be in the loop until enough evidence is found to initiate court proceedings against any suspects. When that happens the defence can challenge the legality of how the information was collected and usually stand a good chance of preventing the use of the information collected in this matter in a prosecution. Most of the current subpoenas related to the Wiki leak investigation only ask for the routing information and not the actual content. For investigations of this sort a warrant is needed for access to even the header information. Those complaining about the government asking for this information never recognize the simple fact that it is the governments responsibility to investigate how the Wikileaks situation occurred. The simple fact is that the info released to Wiki-leaks was a criminal act that requires investigation.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37754506)

And were a warrant granted to search your email, a similar order would be given compelling you to give up your private keys. Failure to do so would result in an obstruction charge, and could be considered the act of a guilty person. Encrypted e-mail only protects you from warrantless snooping, which is what the feds are shying away from.

Re:PGP, GPG, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37756116)

The only hope I can see for that to really happen is for everyone to have a physical token holding their private key. Chip & Pin credit cards seem to have the same chip that the US Military's CAC cards have, and should have a strong crypto module in them. 1st step is to use the chip&pin card to authenticate you when you check your bank account online, so that your bank account is much less vulnerable, and then expand it to have signing and encryption keys so that you have a strong authentication and encryption option that isn't vulnerable to physical theft or replay attacks (copying the mag strip & pin, etc). However, the problem with that is getting the readers into a large number of computers and a trusted method for distributing public keys. I propose that the banks have an internet facing public key store and sign the public keys, so that at least there's an organization you can choose to trust to sign the keys, unlike verisign, et al, who have no real liability.

Contradicting laws (4, Interesting)

FyberOptic (813904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751898)

If they want access to somebody's email without getting a warrant, all they need to do is pull the person over and search their smart phone for some bogus reason. Cause apparently that's still perfectly legal!

Re:Contradicting laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752596)

OK, so that works for all twelve of you who use a telephone for email. The rest of us, who use G-mail on our desktops, are in the clear.

Re:Contradicting laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752946)

OK, so that works for all 11 of you who don't access GMail with a smartphone. The rest of us are in danger.

Re:Contradicting laws (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753290)

Ditch your cell phones or at least turn them off (if you can) most of the time. As Stallman said, "Cellphones are Stalin's dream." Don't make it easy for them. I have not turned my phone on for weeks and I don't miss it a bit...you young pups out there may not believe this, but in the old days we somehow survived without any cell phones. Oh the horror! Actually it was quite pleasant not being interrupted all the time....

Re:Contradicting laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37753376)

In the old days we also survived without cars, power tools or any recent technology, but that doesn't mean I'll stop using everything at my disposal that makes my life easier.

The proper response is to protect your devices, not turn them off.

Re:Contradicting laws (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37764032)

Why don't you just staple a radio locator beacon to your head and broadcast all your phone conversations over a loud speaker because that is what a cell phone does. At some point in the near future we will all be required carry a GPS-enabled device so we can be tracked; I intend to enjoy these last few years of freedom before Big Brother "protects" us from various non-existant threats. You might think I am kidding, but some states such as Tax-a-chusetts is considering transponders for every car in the state so that (supposedly) can tax you on the amount of miles you drive; I think other states already have transponders (or considering them). Next will be personal transponders. My life is quite nice thank you without being tethered to my wife and job all the time with a damn cell phone. A cell phone would not make my life easier; it is just an expensive, Big-Brother-is-watching nuisance.

Re:Contradicting laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37753490)

What a relief. The people who weren't following you can no longer find you!

Re:Contradicting laws (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37754114)

A simple PIN screen lock will suffice. Yes, there is a bad ruling out there now that says the police can look through your phone. This will be overturned. Until then, lock your screen with a PIN. Yes, it can be circumvented, but the patrol cop that pulled you over will not have the equipment in their car. Even if they did, they wouldn't use it. Like most side-of-the-road searches, they are just trolling. If they really expect to find something, they will most likely get a warrant to protect the evidence as admissible.

suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751906)

Glad to see the judge did his job, and glad to see that the fed at least appears to be following his ruling.

Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752050)

Glad to see the judge did his job, and glad to see that the fed at least appears to be following his ruling.

The IRS could still get transaction information from eBay or Amazon ...

"Mr. Cowznowfski, you earned a salary of $35,378.77 for the year 2010."

"Yes..."

"Perhaps you could explain your purchase of this 1930 Duesenberg on eBay..."

"Um.. it was used."

Where did the 6 month rule come from? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751936)

So if the email is older than 6 months they can request it w/o warrant? If my phone record is older than 6 months can they view that? Sounds like a step in the right direction, but a partial victory at best, i believe the feds can wait to charge somebody with a crime well past 6 months, whether the evidence is still there is another story.

Also, WHO you call isn't accessible without a warrant either, so I don't know, seems like a partial victory.

Re:Where did the 6 month rule come from? (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752404)

When the law was written, people downloaded their email to their computers and it was deleted from the server. If the email was still on the server after 6 months, it was most likely abandoned. Webmail was essentially nonexistent. You're showing your (lack of) age.

Re:Where did the 6 month rule come from? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37763800)

When the law was written, people downloaded their email to their computers and it was deleted from the server

The case happened in 2006?

Cite your shit, or stfu.

Why is non-content above getting a warrant? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752210)

"An internal email written by the IRS general counsel cites the law and says that its collectors can no longer get the contents of suspected tax cheats' email by sending letters to their ISPs, though it can get non-content information, like who they email and how they pay for their accounts."

What if the ISP says 'not without a warrant' on this too?

I think you're being naive (2)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752472)

What if the ISP says 'not without a warrant' on this too?

I think you're being naive, if you're seriously hoping ISP would stand up and protect your rights. It's not a profitable thing to do and it is most certainly not in their interest (it cost money to fight this sort of things against the government.) With majority of the market being service by just a few major ISP, there's no incentive for them to go the extra mile to keep you as their customer.

Re:Why is non-content above getting a warrant? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752578)

What if the ISP says 'not without a warrant' on this too?

Why would they do that? Seriously, what motivation do that have to do that? All it could possibly do is create headaches for the legal department. And if the ISP says 'not without a warrant' and wins, rest assured that somebody in law enforcement would start investigating them for something-or-other. While there's probably a market for an ISP that protects its customers legally, I doubt that the market is large enough to sustain a company that has a real chance of competing with the AT&Ts of the world.

It's considered equivalent to a pen trace (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752622)

As in who you call and when with a telephone.

It's like them being able to stand at the post office and read the exposed front of the envelopes containing your mail. It doesn't require a search warrant.

Great! except... (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752238)

they'll just get it from the traffic cops phone-sucking machines after they pull over the perp for a non-existent traffic violation.

The IRS has the necessary authority (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752266)

The IRS has the statutory authority to ask a judge for a warrant if they start a criminal investigation. It's not clear why they didn't do that here. The problem may be that they want to find the money, not prosecute the guy, and that's not a valid use of search warrant authority.

An interesting point is that the consumer protection agencies, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, don't have statutory authority to even request a search warrant.

Re:The IRS has the necessary authority (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753204)

A warrant is more paperwork and has a higher evidence requirement than a non-warrant request, so people generally don't get warrants unless they need them. (Plus, the IRS probably investigates a lot of tax cheats, so they want to save time on them. If you're investigating the only murder your town has seen in the past couple years, you cover your ass and get warrants for everything.)

Incidentally, with many organizations, the standard for being able to make non-warrant requests for information is that you need to have the legal authority to obtain a search warrant. (Another common standard is "arrest powers".)

Beware your ISP's terms of service! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752774)

Be sure to check your ISP's terms of service. They can waive your 4th Amendment Reasonable Expectation of Privacy so the police don't need a warrant.

I confirmed with mine (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753588)

They'll give nothing up without a warrant, and will notify me if not gagged.

The fourth amendment? (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753390)

I thought that had been repealed something like ten years ago.

Why is the IRS reading my email? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753720)

IRS is only conerned with items of income, and there are forms for that. My email might have reciepts, but so would the site that I have the account with.

In December??? (1)

lopaka1998 (1352441) | more than 2 years ago | (#37755782)

"In December, a federal judge ruled"

Um... Is it me... or is December not here yet? So either this is a REALLY OLD article or they somehow invented a time machine, went about two months into the future and came back to give us this good news? I don't get it..... Maybe it has something to do with the 2013 Delorian??? [slashdot.org]

The ruling makes no difference. (1)

idbeholda (2405958) | more than 2 years ago | (#37757116)

Our emails have been secretly monitored for quite some time. "Shying away" from such actions is merely on paper and PR. If you believe otherwise, you're a fool.

Re:The ruling makes no difference. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37757708)

so, step up to the plate, and dismantle your skynet, shadow government, military industrial complex, big pharma, big content, and jail the bildeberg participants, jail the FED, seize all physiacl gold in your country and nationalize it without compensation, seize all bank accounts containing more than $1.5 M, all balances above this point to be distributed evenly amongst the CITIZENs, invalidate the concept of National Security and seize back control of the fruits of your labour, seize back control of the technologies developed using your tax dollars, seize back control of your Rights and Freedoms.

Former Revenue Officer, here (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37757536)

Where to start?

The article says the R.O. in this case "asked" the ISP for the information. That can be done a number of ways. The most informal is to, you know, ask.

If an R.O. wants to find out about you and you live in an apartment complex, they'll ask the complex management for a look at your application. 20 years ago, the management would hand it over. Nowadays, in the aftermath of the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1998 that, in many ways, neutered R.Os, nobody complies with simple requests.

If a recordkeeper wants a piece of paper to cover themselves for giving up the privacy of their customer, that's easy. It's called a "Notice to Exhibit Books and Records" and the R.O. can fill out one and hand that over. Nowadays, those get rejected, too.

The involvement of Counsel in this particular case means that the R.O. actually sent a summons for information to the ISP. If the summons hadn't been overbroad (asking for the text of emails), then there wouldn't have been a problem.

Here's what gets me - Why did the R.O. want the text of emails, anyway? It's enough to know the basic details provided at signup. Generally, unlawful tax avoiders try to make everything difficult for the R.O. by refusing to hand over even simple information or avoiding contact all together. Getting the basic sign-up info would provide the R.O. with a (probably) valid street address and credit card info. That's plenty to build on.

My two most successful ways to find people, back when I did this job: First, summons the persons mother. Mom generally knows where their kid is. Second, if you know the general neighborhood, summons the nearest schools for the emergency contact information provided for their kids. Even tax cheats tell the truth (daytime location/employer and all phone numbers) when it comes to letting the school know how they can be contacted in case of an emergency involving their kids.

tl;dr - RO issues overbroad summons and gets slapped. BFD and not unusual.

non-content information? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761648)

Yeah, like the Subject, To: and From: of all email, and every URL they load, including any GET form parms. This information is aggregated, burned to a CD, and handed to an FBI agent, so there is no electronic record of the transfer.

ObDisclaimer: AFAIK I am not being monitored by the FBI, but who knows? I'm an outspoken privacy and freedom advocate and I have had a job which required an FBI background check. I do, however, know someone who is responsible for handling the FBI-required monitoring of one or more of their ISP customer[s].

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