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DOJ docs reveal Facebook and email digging without a warrant


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The US Department of Justice and FBI can read your email, Facebook and Twitter messages, and other electronic content without needing a warrant first, government documentation reveals, in what’s being seen as another slap at due process and privacy. Internal guidelines from US Attorney offices in multiple locations and acquired by the American Civil Liberties Union apparently suggest that investigators need not go through regular legal channels to arrange search warrants to dig in American’s electronic communications. Instead, CNET reports, agencies are seemingly taking the easiest route they can to access email and messaging records, bypassing approval from a judge.

In one case, in Houston, the US Attorney’s office apparently acquired “contents of stored communications” from an ISP, identity unspecified, without a warrant. The US Attorney’s office in Manhattan issued guidelines to staff that it could achieve the same results with a subpoena rather than a full warrant.

It’s not the first time this year that investigative methods followed by US governments have come in for criticism. Back in March, a California court criticized the FBI for violating First Amendment rights by using so-called “National Security Letters”; by citing national security considerations, the FBI could bypass getting warrants in the traditional manner, and the subject of investigations would not be informed that their data had been shared.

Here, it’s the Fourth Amendment which privacy advocates like the ACLU argue the DOJ and FBI are trampling over. Digital information held by cloud services like Gmail, Dropbox, Facebook, or Twitter should be just as protected as a hard-drive physically located in a suspect’s home, they claim.

One confusing factor is that in many cases email and non-email digital content is treated differently. A 2010 ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, US v. Warshak, left many of the big names in webmail – Gmail and Outlook among them – insisting full warrants for access to emails they store. However, while the Justice Department appears content to comply with that, it has proved less concerned with following full warrant procedures with files such as those stored in Dropbox or Google Drive, or direct messages and IM chat on Twitter and Facebook.

“We really can’t have this patchwork system anymore,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Wessler concludes, “where agencies get to decide on an ad hoc basis how privacy-protective they’re going to be.” However, moves to pin down the exact legal expectations of the DoJ and FBI have met with opposition, and other proposals to heavily fine companies like Google who do not comply with wiretap orders are also underway.

Source: SlashGear

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The United States government has become the enemy of freedom and the fact that they have global influence and unlimited funds is really frightening. The irony is that the 700 billion that America has spent since 9/11 hasn't made us any safer and in every case they were actually warned that they should investigate certain suspects which they blatantly ignored causing massive injuries, fatalities and suffering to the populace. Many years before 9/11 the government received that infamous report that basically told them that terrorists were looking to fly plains into buildings and of course as we all know they completely ignored them. The same thing just happened with the recent Boston marathon bombing in which it came to light that Russia had warned them that they should investigate the older brother which again they ignored. These were simple things that could have been done that wouldn't have cost any money, any loss of freedom, any invasion of privacy and would have actually prevented the events that came later. Instead they call for more and more money and we surrender more and more freedoms.

What's even more amazing is that there will be individuals that will read this story and a million others like it and then have the nerve to tell me that the United States goverment isn't wiping their ass with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Suddenly you're lumped in with nutjobs like Alex Jones when you simply talk about what others deem are conspiracy theories. Yeah it's this big crazy conspiracy...it's called truth. The United States isn't becoming like Orwell's 1984, that's simply preposterous. We don't have cameras everywhere with software that is better than facial recognition. Nobody is listening to our phone calls and internet communications. We can't be held indefinitely against our will without trial or charge. We don't have the illusion of freedom and propoganda shoved in our faces. We're not considered enemies of the state if we question what is going on. Oh wait scratch that, we have all those things and about a million more. The government must be held accountable just as they hold their own citizens and the rest of the world accountable and even more so because our lives are shaped by these very policies. You want to go around acting like the righteous policemen of the planet then get ready to have that spotlight shoved up your own ass. :fist:

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