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. [more inside]
All I want is to be left alone in my average home... But why do I always feel I'm in the twilight zone?
In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed 381 requests in 32 states with local law enforcement agencies seeking to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. So how long do American cell phone carriers retain information about your calls, text messages, and data use? According to data gathered by the US Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider. (Via / More)
Today the Supreme Court in ruled 8-0 in FCC v. ATT that corporations have no "personal privacy" exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. The opinion ended the speculation that the Supreme Court would use this case to take yet another step towards equating corporations with actual people. For links to the various briefs, lower court decisions, and a summary of the underlying facts and opinion, visit the SCOTUSblog. [more inside]
Ashcroft issues new policy on FOIA requests that rescinds a 1993 policy that made it somewhat harder for federal agencies to refuse requests for public records. No surprise, especially given the current situation, but the interesting part is the rationale: Ashcroft cites national security, the effectiveness of law enforcement and protecting sensitive business information. "I encourage your agency to carefully consider the protection of all such values and interests when making disclosure determinations under the FOIA." (via Politechbot)