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E-Mail Searching: Warrant or Not?

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

June 1, 2011

Under Fourth Amendment rights, your home, phone, body and letters are protected from unreasonable searches. However, writes Adam Cohen for TIME, e-mails don't fall into that same category...yet. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is trying to give e-mail similar protection. "E-mail is today's equivalent of what postal letters and telephone calls once were," says Cohen, but currently searching e-mail stored for 180 days--or those you've already opened--does not require a warrant. Leahy's bill would "impose a single standard; the government must get a search warrant" to read your e-mail or when it wants to find your location using smartphone or tablet computer signals. But, some say the bill could go even go further.
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