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Sixth Circuit Says E-mail Protected by Fourth Amendment

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

December 15, 2010

A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that e-mail is protected by the Fourth Amendment and that the government must have a search warrant to intercept and read e-mails, according to an Electronic Frontier Foundation media release. In its decision in U.S. v. Warshak, the court said that, like traditional forms of communication, e-mail "requires strong protection." Tanya Forsheit, CIPP, of the InformationLawGroup, told the Daily Dashboard that this is "another great example of how it takes the courts and the law years to catch up with technology." As noted by the Sixth Circuit, said Forsheit, 'given the fundamental similarities between e-mail and traditional forms of communication, it would defy common sense to afford e-mails lesser Fourth Amendment protection.' And yet the law is just now getting there." Forsheit says privacy professionals and lawyers play an essential role in educating the courts and legislators on changes in technology and what those changes mean for privacy in this country.
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