Gov't Needs Warrant to Search Email

Engadget reports that "the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled [on Monday] that the government must have a search warrant before it can obtain email from your provider. Specifically, the court held in U.S. v Warshak that "it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection" than traditional communications like phone calls and postal mail."

I wonder, is there any concern here for spam filtering? Some ISPs can clearly see into end user mailboxes and occasionally pull that data out for spam filter troubleshooting. Do they need to be concerned about doing so?


  1. I was chatting with a fellow at work about this, and he mentioned that the 4th protects against search & seizure by the government.

  2. +1 that was also what I thought.

  3. I agree with Al in that a lawyer could come up with a case or a way of explaining how you give up your 4th ammendment right as soon as a spam filter looks at that data.

    There will always be a new argument from the government as to why they should be allowed to get your data.

  4. It's usually covered by a very generic clause in the contract between the ISP and their user (Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and/or some similar agreement that the user never actually read.)

  5. So, this is criminal law right? How about in a civil setting, like in a corporate/employment setting? Can employers search employee emails?
    See also:


Comments policy: Al is always right. Kidding, mostly. Be polite, and you're welcome to join in, even if it's a differing viewpoint.