Risk
6/11/2009
07:46 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

U.S. Court Weighs E-mail Privacy, Again

At issue: whether e-mail messages deserve the same privacy protection as telephone calls.

In a replay of a court decision from two years ago, civil liberties groups are once again trying to persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that e-mail messages deserve the same privacy protection as telephone calls.

On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU of Ohio, and the Center for Democracy and Technology filed an amicus brief in Warshak v. USA in support of appellant Steven Warshak.

Warshak argues that a court order secretly directing his ISP to preserve his e-mail violates federal privacy laws and his expectation of privacy.

The government's interest in Warshak follows from its 2005 investigation of allegations of mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and other federal offenses arising from the operations of Steven Warshak's company Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, a maker of herbal pills for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

In May 2005, the government obtained an order from an Ohio judge directing Internet service provider NuVox Communications to turn over electronic messages belonging to Warshak and his associates. In September of that year, the government used a similar order to obtain Warshak's e-mail from Yahoo.

In November 2006, the EFF, the ACLU of Ohio, and the CDT filed a similar amicus brief in support of Warshak, arguing that e-mail deserves the same legal protection as telephone calls. In June 2007, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Warshak's favor. But that decision was vacated on procedural grounds. And now the case is back before the court.

In a statement, EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston says that the Justice Department conducted what amounts to a "back-door wiretap" when it intercepted six months of Warshak's e-mail without a warrant. "Thankfully, this abuse has given the appeals court yet another opportunity to clarify that the Fourth Amendment protects the privacy of e-mail against secret government snooping, even when it's in the hands of an e-mail provider," he said.


InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on what executives really think about security. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-1544
Published: 2014-07-23
Use-after-free vulnerability in the CERT_DestroyCertificate function in libnss3.so in Mozilla Network Security Services (NSS) 3.x, as used in Firefox before 31.0, Firefox ESR 24.x before 24.7, and Thunderbird before 24.7, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via vectors that trigger cer...

CVE-2014-1547
Published: 2014-07-23
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in the browser engine in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0, Firefox ESR 24.x before 24.7, and Thunderbird before 24.7 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-1548
Published: 2014-07-23
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in the browser engine in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-1549
Published: 2014-07-23
The mozilla::dom::AudioBufferSourceNodeEngine::CopyFromInputBuffer function in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 does not properly allocate Web Audio buffer memory, which allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (buffer overflow and applica...

CVE-2014-1550
Published: 2014-07-23
Use-after-free vulnerability in the MediaInputPort class in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (heap memory corruption) by leveraging incorrect Web Audio control-message ordering.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Where do information security startups come from? More important, how can I tell a good one from a flash in the pan? Learn how to separate ITSec wheat from chaff in this episode.