Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 10, 2010

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says email stored on net is likely subject to production via a federal court subpoena rather than a warrant.

If you have a web-based email account, such as Hotmail or Gmail, the Stored Wired and Electronic Communications and Transactions Records Access Act (ECPA), 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2701, enacted in 1986, may be of interest to you, especially if you or your company may be a defendant in a federal criminal case.

Under recent case law interpreting ECPA, U.S. v. Weaver, 636 F. Supp.2d 769 (C.D. Ill. 2009), email communications stored in a web-based email account are afforded less privacy protection than postal mail. U.S.v.Weaver 636 F.Supp.2d 769 (2009)

In Weaver, the government accessed emails from the criminal defendant’s web-based Hotmail account without obtaining a search warrant. Traditionally, courts have required a search warrant to open postal mail, but a subpoena is sufficient to obtain email stored on an internet service provider’s server somewhere on the cloud.

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