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Limited Email Surveillance Approved 249

Posted by Zonk
from the but-they-were-all-bad dept.
MrNougat writes "CNet reports that some surveillance of your email has been permitted by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan in Washington, D.C., without first requiring any evidence of wrongdoing. Curiously: 'instead of asking to eavesdrop on the contents of the e-mail messages, which would require some evidence of wrongdoing, prosecutors [of the US Justice Dept.] instead requested the identities of the correspondents. Also included in the request was header information like date and time and Internet address--but not subject lines.'"
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Limited Email Surveillance Approved

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  • Land of the free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:22AM (#14686859)
    Hey, you're still kind of free. Well, free-ish. I'm sure your government is doing this for your own good. There couldn't possibly be any other reason.
    • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:27AM (#14686894)
      Yea innocent people should have nothing to hide!

      http://www.workingforchange.com/comic.cfm?itemid=2 0323 [workingforchange.com]
      • by jc42 (318812)
        Heh. Considering the Bush administration's past attempts to attribute terrorism to citizens of Niger, and all the email that most of us get from thereabouts, we can assume that we're all going to be on the list of suspects.

        What? Niger and Nigeria are different countries? Are you sure? Do you think that Bush's people know?

        (Also, I've gotten some amazing offers from correspondents in Spain, and because of the ETA gang, that's considered a terrorist country. ;-)
      • Re:Land of the free (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LilGuy (150110) on Friday February 10, 2006 @02:03PM (#14688898)
        Guess what happens when you don't hide your innocent opinions when they clash with the administration?

        Ask Hunter S. Thompson.
      • Intresting I got troll for that but I (or rather the cartoon) is making a valid point.

        You have a president that has been hiding various stuff and instigating laws to protect his backside while doing the reverse for the people of the country.

        If he was innocent he would have nothing to hide.
    • Don't worry. (Score:3, Informative)

      by khasim (1285)
      You only lose any Rights you haven't used within the last 90 days.

      Now, you have to prove to the government that you're actually using any Rights you want to hang on to.

      I recommend calling and sending real letters to your CongressCritters.
      • I haven't used a firearm in 22 years (used at a shooting range) nor do I have a current desire to own one but that right better never be taken away from me.
        • Re:Don't worry. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) * on Friday February 10, 2006 @01:13PM (#14688451) Homepage
          but that right better never be taken away from me.

          Or what? Seriously, what would you do? Sadly, I think you overestimate your ability to protect yourself.

      • Well, I guess it is time for me to dust off my old 'nym' accounts.

        Damn...been a long time since I've played with nym accounts and remailers, but, at least that will confuse them for fun for a bit....with multiple bounces and each remailer stripping off header info, and encryption the whole way...would be near impossible for them to trace anything.

        Time to go do some research on what servers are still out there...and creating reply blocks...and mixmaster....etc...

    • Well, let's see.

      As a non-US-resident, I have no idea how the US Postal Service actually handles "privacy" issues.
      Although, I find it hard to believe that generic data (who sent a letter, whom it was adressed to, when and where it was dropped in the mailbox, letter weight) would be deemed "private" enough, so that the government would have absolutely no access to it, if it wanted to.
      (Note: perspective from a citizen of an ex-communist state)

      Now, think about how the US Post handles this, and ask yourself if i
    • by dc29A (636871) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:57AM (#14687177)
      You're semi-free.
      You're quasi-free.
      You're the margarine of free.
      You're the Diet Coke of free.
      Just one calorie, not free enough!
    • Yes, use encryption. But what happens is the one guy who uses it gets more scrutiny, if everyone uses it, then there would be less of a stigma. It starts with an inch, and eventually becomes a mile. I don't trust our elected and appointed leaders to protect my rights. My last name isn't Inc. or LLC.
      • Good point. I don't know if I want to end up on some terrorist watch list for encyrpting that the Linux User Group meeting will be at 6 on Tuesdays.
      • With the information from a pen register -- what this article is about -- no one would even know whether or not you were using encryption. The information that investigators are allowed to collect without a warrant is limited to so-and-so sent an email to so-and-so at such-and-such time. Not that while they don't need a warrant or "probable cause" they do need to certify that they are likely to obtain information relevant to an ongoing investigation.
    • To play devils advocate

      If you sent a letter through the US mail. They would find out similar information without opening the letter. They would know the return address, mailing address, What day and from what post office it was mailed from. As long as they read the subject line or email It really isn't unvasion of privacy.

      And like many people have commented, if your paranoid, use incyption.
      • To play devils advocate

        Back at you...

        If you sent a letter through the US mail. They would find out similar information without opening the letter.

        No... they *could*... but it is not reasonable to think that they *would* because it would be too labor intensive to do so with very little to show in return.

        Also, they would not even consider doing this with the mail becasue it would be painfully obvious who should pay for the ability... them.

        However, not only do they do this with email because "it is easy"...
    • Re:Land of the free (Score:5, Informative)

      by monkeydo (173558) on Friday February 10, 2006 @11:57AM (#14687724) Homepage
      This article is neither interesting, nor informative. In fact, the summary is very misleading. The application for a pen register requires, "a certification by the applicant that the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by that agency." No evidence of wrongdoing, my ass.

      Plus, as the article mentions, it was the intention of Congress to bring these type of "trap and trace" orders for email in line with phone lines when they amended the law more than 4 years ago, so this isn't really news.

      The Supreme Court ruled as early as 1979 that the fourth amendment doesn't require a warrant for a pen register [findlaw.com], because you have no expectation of privacy in what phone numbers you call. I can't fathom any reason why federal investigators should have to meet one standard to get a pen register on your phone, and a different standard to get the same information for your email.
    • Hey, you're still kind of free.

      Truthier words were never spoken.

      -Eric

    • We're not even free-ish. The boundaries of control are just closing in on us. People in power always fight against individual freedoms because that's what maintains their influence.
    • The slogan you refer to has been updated. It's now "Land of the fee, Home of the slave".

      We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • So use encryption! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdavidb (449077) * on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:22AM (#14686861) Homepage Journal

    In my opinion, if you're not already assuming that the contents of your unencrypted email are public to the world, you're fooling yourself. If you want it to be unreadable, encrypt it.

    I think the only permission anybody ought to need in order to eavesdrop on a communication is the owner of the wire. If you're contracting with the owner of the wire for services, and privacy is important to you, make that part of the contract. Or save yourself some effort and money and simply encrypt your communications. It's nearly effortless. It won't cost you anything (money wise) for the software.

    Also, I take exception with the summary that "some surveillance of your email has been permitted." The article says, "the Justice Department asked a federal magistrate judge to approve monitoring of an unnamed person's e-mail correspondents." I sincerely doubt that I am that person or one of his correspondents, unless he is a spammer. I recognize this could affect me in the future because a precedent has been set ... but again, that's easily handled with encryption now, isn't it?

    Complaining about this is tantamount to making love to your wife in your open front doorway and then demanding a law be passed to protect your privacy from your neighbor or the police car driving by. For crying out loud! Isn't some burden on you to secure your own privacy? This is not so far from the DMCA requiring legal protection against breaking "protection mechanisms" that are not effective in the slightest. Why in the world would you trust the government enough to expect them to take responsibility for securing your privacy?

    People seem to be looking for an expensive legislative solution to a technological problem that already has an inexpensive technical solution.

    • by PDXNerd (654900) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:29AM (#14686914)
      Well, encryption won't help if the only information they want are the headers. Those nifty "TO" and "FROM" fields let them know who you're contacting. An added bonus is they get to see what type of computer you're running. If they are allowed to listen on the SMTP servers, they can catch your password in plain english (unless you're one of the few who are using SSL or some other form of encryption on the passwords.)

      Encryption will block them knowing the dirty joke you just told your friends, but it won't stop them from knowing WHO your friends are!
      • Encryption will block them knowing the dirty joke you just told your friends, but it won't stop them from knowing WHO your friends are!

        So, you sent and email to Mr. A.

        Who sends email to Mr. B.

        Who sends email to Mrs. C.

        Yeah, you see where this is going. Just about anyone can be connected to anyone else with enough hops.

        And the government would be "justified" in collecting the information on each of the people in those hops because those people are "connected" to someone under investigation.

      • by Haxwell (229790) on Friday February 10, 2006 @11:32AM (#14687471) Homepage
        Two words:

        Mixmaster remailer.
      • Not me! I encrypt all my headers, too!
        .
        .
        .
        The e-mail doesn't really go anywhere. But Boy is it secure!
      • Those nifty "TO" and "FROM" fields let them know who you're contacting

        and, of course, those can be spoofed [cert.org]. So, using e-mail header information to identify criminals and/or terrorists seems like it could produce a lot of false positives.

      • If you accumulate information about who talks to whom, when, how often, and whether they get replies, you are doing "Traffic Analysis"(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_an a lysis [wikipedia.org]) and getting valuable intelligence.

        Wiretapping law has distinguished between content and header-like information for a long time. Before Skype, even back before email, people used to communicate using devices called "telephones" which set up point-to-point voice grade audio streams. Police would sometimes record, not the actual
      • And WHO you're talking to can be a great deal more interesting. Frex, if you're part of a "disapproved" political group and the gov't wanted to round up the whole group at once. All they'd have to do is track who talks to whom, and arrest everyone in the chain.

    • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:30AM (#14686923)
      TBH the whole system is pointless. Lets say Joe Terrorist wants to pass a message to another cell.

      Does he fire up his hotmail account and send an email to durkadurka@hotmail.com?

      Of course he doesn't. TBH the easiest way would be to post on a webboard that has a lot of innocent traffic, or on the USENET. Heck even just play an online game (MMORPG) and say something like your looking for +3 Orc slaying knife for two gold pieces.

      This method of scanning email headers doesn't solve the issue. All combatants must realise they are being spied on.
      • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadivNO@SPAMneverbox.com> on Friday February 10, 2006 @11:27AM (#14687428) Homepage
        There are actually Usenet groups for posting unlabeled encrypted messages in. People receive messages by merely downloading each article and trying to decrypt it. While you can figure out who is communicating using that method, you can't figure out who they are comunicating with, except it has to be someone else in that group.

        Thanks to spammers, you can buy lists of 'open proxies' that will let you hide your IP and access the person with the owned computer's ISP's usenet server, which you really only need to do when sending messages. Thus rendering any sort of traffic analysis of the group completely useless.

        But the best method of sending data on the internet is hiding it in, say, a GIF. You don't even need to use stenography, you can just take an encrypted binary file, put a GIF header at the start of it, and put it in a 1x1 image link somewhere on a web page between two specific times, and have any receipient 'innocently' surf past your page, and then go get it out of their cache. Bonus points if you manage to write bad HTML so that only one specific browser will go and get the 'image', like IE 4 or Firefox 0.7, although you shouldn't make that obvious or people might get curious. Be sure to put a real image up there the rest of the time, and reset the date back whenever you make changes.

        And you can trivially think of a way to have two people do this to each other so they can talk back and forth. They just each have pages on somewhat related things, and browse a bunch of pages on that topic, always making sure to go past each other's.

        The great thing about this is that the receiving end can defeat a keylogger. Just make sure the 'check the cache for encrypted files' is a program that they won't notice when installing the keylogger, for example a solitaire game, and it pops up the decoded message when you start it between exactly 32 minutes and 37 minutes after adding the image to your cache, or something. Most software keyloggers do not include any sort of screen capturing, because that would require a lot of space, and hardware ones cannot do it at all, or at least not reasonably. (And see Cryptonomicron for how to defeat this, although note the method of communication in that can be logged also.)

        Although obviously if you send messages, a keylogger will catch them. In theory, you could click on the letter via your mouse, but a lot of software keyloggers are including mouse clicks exactly because of that. Although the message can be hidden via moving buttons around and renaming them, that is incredibly annoying for any message over two sentences, and it doesn't hide the fact you were doing something very suspicious, which, if they've bugged your machine, they were already pretty sure of.

      • Joe Biden questioning our Attorney General the other day about the supposed damage to our intelligence system because of the NSA leak:

        BIDEN: Thank you very much. General, how has this revelation damaged the program? I'm almost confused by it but, I mean, it seems to presuppose that these very sophisticated Al Qaida folks didn't think we were intercepting their phone calls.

        GONZALES: Well, Senator, I would first refer to the experts in the Intel Committee who are making that statement, first of all. I'

      • All combatants must realise they are being spied on.

        That's evildoers you unpatriotic clod!
      • First, let me say I'm against anything that erodes civil liberties like this - I'm certainly not a supporter of this sort of surveilance. But it's not fair to say that it's pointless. Plenty of people have been caught because they've practiced poor OPSEC and COMSEC. No, you won't catch anyone being particularly careful or clever, but you'll still catch a lot of the dumb, lazy, or just poorly-trained ones. And sometimes that's enough - especially when the dumb ones point you to the ones that really do kn
    • Encryption works fine for email correspondence between you and me. The trouble is that about 0.01% of the general public has any idea of public key encryption schemes. It is quite impractical for even a competent geek to try to ensure all his correspondents can receive and send encrypted emails.
    • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:32AM (#14686942) Journal
      This is not about reading your email. Its about finding out who and when you sent an email.

      Encrypt it all you want, they are not interested in what you are sending, and not even the subject, they are interested who you are communicating with and when.
      • Yeah, from the summary itself:

        Curiously: 'instead of asking to eavesdrop on the contents of the e-mail messages, which would require some evidence of wrongdoing, prosecutors [of the US Justice Dept.] instead requested the identities of the correspondents. Also included in the request was header information like date and time and Internet address--but not subject lines.'"

        Which doesn't seem all that different from what they can do with snailmail in the USPS (I assume) anyway. Though in both cases, you have t

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        This is not about reading your email. Its about finding out who and when you sent an email.

        Encrypt it all you want, they are not interested in what you are sending, and not even the subject, they are interested who you are communicating with and when.

        You're right, but this is a complete license to conduct fishing expeditions.

        Imagine a situation in which you (A), being a non-terrorist might be obliquely linked to someone who is a suspected-terrorist (B). Such expeditions will allow the following chain of l

    • Complaining about this is tantamount to making love to your wife in your open front doorway and then demanding a law be passed to protect your privacy from your neighbor or the police car driving by. For crying out loud! Isn't some burden on you to secure your own privacy?

      To entend the analogy, and answer your question, the situation for the last 30 years has essentially been that RSA have patented front doors and indeed, non transparent walls.
      • by Threni (635302)
        > To entend the analogy, and answer your question, the situation for the last 30 years has
        > essentially been that RSA have patented front doors and indeed, non transparent walls.

        Wrong.

        1) They patented a certain type of front door, not all of them - you could buy doors from other companies, or make your own. There's a type of door - a `one time door`, which can't be opened by anyone except for you and people you live with, as long as you follow the instructions cafefully.

        2) You've been able to use RSA'
    • I think the flaw in what you are saying is that using encryption with email is not only not commonplace, but is very difficult to do, and that's why it isn't and will remain uncommon for the forseable future. It is impractical to expect people to encrypt their email because no one has made it easy and practical. To turn your comparison on its head, it's like installing hidden and boobytrapped surveilance cameras in everyones bedroom, and justifying it by saying that everyone should know they are there, be a
    • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:41AM (#14687021) Journal
      I think the only permission anybody ought to need in order to eavesdrop on a communication is the owner of the wire. If you're contracting with the owner of the wire for services, and privacy is important to you, make that part of the contract.

      Let me call the phone company right quick and ask that my DSL contract be amended to express that they will not allow someone to tap the lines. I'm sure they'll get right on that.

      Or save yourself some effort and money and simply encrypt your communications. It's nearly effortless. It won't cost you anything (money wise) for the software.

      Because everyone automatically knows how to encrypt e-mails.

      Also, I take exception with the summary that "some surveillance of your email has been permitted." The article says, "the Justice Department asked a federal magistrate judge to approve monitoring of an unnamed person's e-mail correspondents." I sincerely doubt that I am that person or one of his correspondents, unless he is a spammer. I recognize this could affect me in the future because a precedent has been set ...

      I agree with this. If I'm reading this right, the government is investigating a particular person and is asking for permission to monitor that particular person's e-mail correspondents. It's like tapping the phones of everyone who calls/is called by a mob boss. The precedent creates a slippery slope, but we haven't fallen down every time we've hit one of those.

      Complaining about this is tantamount to making love to your wife in your open front doorway and then demanding a law be passed to protect your privacy from your neighbor or the police car driving by. For crying out loud! Isn't some burden on you to secure your own privacy? This is not so far from the DMCA requiring legal protection against breaking "protection mechanisms" that are not effective in the slightest. Why in the world would you trust the government enough to expect them to take responsibility for securing your privacy?

      No, complaining about this is more like making love to your wife in your bedroom and realizing there's some perv in the bushes outside your window. E-mails are NOT broadcasts, it requires some effort and intrusion to tap someone's e-mail. A girl in a slinky dress is NOT asking to be raped, a house without bars on the windows is NOT asking to be robbed, and unencrypted e-mail is NOT an invitation to intercept and open it. It's smart to lock your car.

      If you leave your car running while you run into to the store and it's gone when you come out, I'll call you a dope for making it so easy, but I'll still call the thief a scumbag for stealing someone's car.

      • Let me call the phone company right quick and ask that my DSL contract be amended to express that they will not allow someone to tap the lines. I'm sure they'll get right on that.

        Yep. Real privacy is expensive. Somebody has to bear the cost.

        Real protected media would be expensive, too. Instead of bearing the cost, the MPAA/RIAA just get laws passed so that no-good protection is legally "good enough."

        Of course, if you want privacy you could instead use encryption.

      • I've got two relevant points, given this. First, no one's forced to use DSL. Nearly anyone who can get DSL can also get a fractional T1 terminated with most anyone. Too expensive? Tough shit, the only one choosing price over the ability to negotiate a contract is the cheap-ass consumer.

        None the less, there have been laws on the books for years which allow any ISP through which emai lroutes to examine the messages passing through for performance reasons - this includes reading the messages. If the ISP f
      • Or to use the old postcard analogy -- the post card's message is hanging right out there in plain sight, for all the world to read -- but someone still has to go to the post office and root thru the mail bin. So it really depends on who has permission to be in the back end of the post office.

        Or with email, who has permission to root thru mail servers' content.

    • Of course, many people don't realize that you can enable TLS on your mail server, and many others (many right here on Slashdot) said that I and a few others were paranoid for not wanting to let a large ISP run our mail servers for us. Worse, we tend not to want to allow our mail to be relayed THROUGH such large mail servers. My ISP STILL doesn't use TLS if I try to relay through them (though I realize that would be pointless, since the Feds will simply require a tap into their MTA directly, which sees the u
    • but again, that's easily handled with encryption now, isn't it?

      Not quite, because its gainst the law to withold your encryption keys if you're asked for them [gnu-designs.com].

      Encryption is great (and I use it heavily on drives, mail, backups and everything that contains non-public data), but not when its against the law to use it. Lovely world we live in, isn't it?

    • I think the only permission anybody ought to need in order to eavesdrop on a communication is the owner of the wire.

      You're missing the point. Yes, it's in plain view of the public, but this isn't the problem - the problem, quite simply, is that the government is surveilling it without cause. I do agree however, that encryption may be the only way to re-establish some balance.
    • tantamount to making love to your wife in your open front doorway

      Ok - after some time spent researching this phrase [wikipedia.org], I think I'm able to translate this analogy for my fellow average slashdot readers. What he's trying to say is, it's "tantamount to downloading hentai in your open front doorway."

  • China (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:23AM (#14686863)
    Everyday I feel more like I'm Chinese....
  • Btdd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:23AM (#14686870) Homepage Journal
    We have the same law proposed here. It stranded due to the politicians lack of technical knowledge. They think that the To: From: and CC: field actually tells you who sent the email and to whom. It's extremely difficult to tell a non-tech savvy person that these header fields are purely cosmetic.
    • It's extremely difficult to tell a non-tech savvy person that these header fields are purely cosmetic.
      I don't know why it would such a difficult concept to convey? I can send you a first class letter with Hugh Hefner's name and address scrawled in the upper left corner. It doesn't mean that you've finally received your invitation to the Playboy mansion.
    • Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by backslashdot (95548) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:45AM (#14687065)
      Thanks to boring people, world is moving towards a total lack of privacy. The governments want to be in on every piece of human interaction. Not only that, they wish to record it too.

      Soon a day will come ..worldwide .. no place to run style .. if it hasn't already for muslims .. where one can no longer can you be silly on the phone. No longer can you make racially biased or culturally insensitive jokes even among non-racist friends. I hope our body is well toned, for it'll be on camera .. you don't want your friendly monitors laughing at you. You have to worry about everything you say on the phone. You can't ask about the weather even because you'll have to worry about whether it'll be interpreted as meaning something else ("why would you care about weather in some other country"). No longer can you raise your voice to your own child. No longer can you tell little white lies to hold on to some image. On the "bright" side .. you won't be able to cheat on your girlfriend.

      They already want to be in on every financial interaction (sales/income tax). I rather pay a flat amount every year for "my share" of defense costs and be done with it. Are they going to ta happiness too soon? "You exchanged happiness, we want out fair share cause you wouldnt have been able to exchange happiness was it not for us" .. Sorry but I only give to Caesar what belongs to him.

      I value my privacy, and I believe that the fourth amendment makes America a strong nation. The founding fathers of the USA understood that the right to privacy is one of those inalienable human rights endowed by our creator. (if you read the first amendment you will see that that it's a right "ot to be violated", rather than a gift from government. I believe the right to privacy is what keeps a nation free from oppression, tyranny, and pathological dictators. Fuck all the fake patriots who'll sell us otherwise.
      • The ethics of recording for criminal activities over an extended period of times is dubious. How many of you would like it if your local police department recorded speeders over a period of 1 month on video and sent out notices for every time you sped .. the first time you "get caught"?

        Somehow I think many of us would be against that particular thing. But hey privacy is only for those who have soemthing to hide. NOT.
    • My first point is the FEDs really really like this new toy and are smart enough to know if they get too carried away with it, congress is going to slap their little pinkies and take it away. Once it's taken away, it'll be really hard for them to get it back. I expect the feds will show a lot of restraint in using this because they don't want to lose the whole ball of wax.
      My second point is the FEDs are going to quickly realise that your completely right. In fact pretty soon they'll realise that stoping viru
  • I presume this is because most email logs wouldn't store this information, so it's not there to collect. I'm sure if it had been there'd be lots more interest.

    This leads me to wonder, are there regulations in place saying how long a US ISP must maintain email logs for? If not, do any ISP's actually publish their data retention policy?

  • Regarding that "curiously", long-standing precedent regarding phone surveillance makes a distinction between surveillance which reveals "public" information, analogous to the outside of an envelope (the parties in communication and the times of their contacts) and that which reveals "private" information (i.e. the actual content of their communications). IANAL, but I'm fairly sure the police are allowed to get the phone company's records of the recipients and times of your phone calls. ("LUD"s, for all you
  • There's two choices for us now. Either you can install GPG (works well with a particular Thunderbird extension) or send pictures of your penis to the agency responsible for reading the emails. Personally, I've started doing the former and as soon as I get my digital camera some batteries will start doing the latter. A picture of my penis that says in the subject line "SURVEIL THIS" will (with any luck) deter them from surveillance. If not, some goatse or tubgirl oughtta do the trick.
  • by RoffleTheWaffle (916980) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:27AM (#14686893) Journal
    This idea is made of crap and stupid. What, are they just trying to scare people into not using e-mail if they're going to blow something up, or do they actually care if someone is sending e-mail from a spoofed site named "rofl.mao"?
    • How many people spoof all headers? You and a few dozen other paranoid few? The majority of people do not, and that is all they care about. (If this was really about terrorism, they would know this wouldn't work - they want to fill out their "social connections" database a little better.)
  • by chiph (523845) on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:29AM (#14686911)
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday February 10, 2006 @10:38AM (#14686997)
    Welcome to the land of the 'free' and the home of the surveilled.
  • I suppose, the information on the regular paper envelopes (adress and return address) was always available to prosecutors.

    How about the phone calls — couldn't they always observe, who is calling a suspect, even if the actual listening requires a judicial warrant?

  • This is already the case with any phone call you make. The police can pull the luds on the phone and know what numbers you called and for how long. They have no idea on the content how ever. And I don't believe they need a warrent to get this information.

    This is the same thing only for email. Instead of a list of numbers, they get a list of email address and times that you've sent stuff too. No content, no subject lines.

    Just Jimmy@MyMail.com emailed Jonna@YourMail.com at 9:37pm on 02/06/2006.

    -Rick
  • Since it's a Grand Jury investigation, the regular 4th Amendment (search and seizure/probable cause) rules are relaxed. A Grand Jury subpoena only requires that the information obtained isn't a fishing expedition.

    This isn't another spying story- grand juries have had the power to read all of your documents to determine if a crime has been committed for hundreds of years.
  • whats next? you have to store your files where the government can look at them whenever? you have to live in a plastic box with bars over it and camera survelance on you? concentration camps? thought monitoring? so you can be scrutinized and analyzed and your everythought crossreferenced with everything else to determine if you one day might think of doing something criminal? its going to be like the movie minority report, only worse.

    we are losing our liberties faster than we can blink, life under a microsc
  • They are being treated the same way as phone records. Phone records (originating number, terminating number, etc) are not considered the same way as the *content* of the call itself. The records can be obtained with a simple subpoena. A log entry that shows some originating email address sent mail to another without revealing the content of the message is quite analogous.

    I forget the case/legislation that established that difference in treatment. Someone else might can followup with that.
  • Government concerns aside, if you have something in any way, shape, or form, that you consider to be sensitive or private, WTH WOULD YOU PUT IT IN AN EMAIL? I mean seriously, nevermind that government could read it, what about any hacker or shady type with any sort of desire to read your email and any bit of technical knowledge.

    I can't believe some of the stuff that people will put in an email that can be intercepted, forwarded, CC'd etc.
  • Police have long been able to record the telephone numbers that you're dialing without a warrant. The idea is that the information you give a third party (like the phone number you're dialing to the phone company) isn't protected. Similar information comes from the header of e-mails -- you have to tell your ISP where it's going, so they're the third party.

    The interesting case is going to be when your computer sends the e-mail directly to your friend's computer. In that case, there is no third party.
  • This is similar to looking at addresses on postal envelopes. Probably considered a minimal invasion of privacy. Where none was reasonably expected. Next down the slippery slope is comparing keyword sniffers to drug dogs. Very limited detection on both, and no possibility of other (private) information leakage. But an alert _is_ probable cause.

  • They are seeking to get the routing information of email. They must certify that it is needed for an ongoing investigation, but need not certify that the person is accused of any wrongdoing. This is hardly a huge leap in caselaw, just a new extension for the digital age. If you really feel threatened by it use hushmail. This is not a huge change in our existing privacy rights. Hell if the post office kept that kind of information I'm sure the police could get routing information there too ( if they don
  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday February 10, 2006 @11:47AM (#14687608) Journal
    You know, looking at the address and the return address on the envelope for regular mail doesn't require, iirc, a warrant.
  • This is for a GRAND JURY. They've had the ability to go through your documents in order to determine if you've committed a crime for DECADES. The 4th amendment does not apply TOO much considering this is for a criminal investigation already underway, for a court and jury.

    You can loosen the grip on your mouse, now, people. Nothing UNUSUAL to see here, move along.
  • In 2000, I sent an email to my father and cousin in which I called Janet Reno "the domestic enemy I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against," and said the she needed to be removed "by any means necessary." A few days later, I was visited by two FBI agents from the Atlanta office. They had a printout of my email showing only what I'd written myself, with the quoted parts and the names of the recipients redacted. (I know, this detail makes very little sense. Maybe they were testing my honesty and

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