IRS Claims Authority to Read Your E-Mail Without A Warrant
April 11, 2013 1:11 PM Subscribe
The ACLU reports that the IRS claims in an internal document that it has the authority to access citizens' online communications without a warrant.
The IRS claimed in a 2009 document that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." It still retains that position even after the 2010 case of US v Warshak
which determined that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.
The IRS to this day declares in bland language that no warrant is required for e-mails held by an ISP for more than 180 days. (One relevant document
). A CNET article
gives additional context.
The ACLU is currently awaiting a response to its FOIA requests to other agencies
like the FBI and Justice Department for information on their policies, procedures, and practices in reading citizens' private communications.
The related case of Jewel v NSA
, in which the EFF is suing the NSA on behalf of AT&T users for the NSA's dragnet surveillance of Americans' electronic communication, is ongoing (after nearly being completely dismissed on the grounds that nobody has standing to challenge the practice because it's secret).
"Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic [including ~1.7 billion e-mails etc. daily] to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. It also includes declarations from three NSA whistleblowers along with a mountain of other evidence."
The government's use of electronic surveillance is increasing dramatically