Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Attorney notes that one court just held a Search Warrant for eMail was unnecessary, where a federal subpoena was issued. The federal Judge ruled that an Internet Service Provider must comply with the Government subpoena for E-Mail. In this cybercrime prosecution, the Government had subpoenaed the Internet service provider (ISP) and sought the contents of electronic communications. The subpoena requested previously opened or sent e-mail that belonged to the defendant.
The ISP failed to produce e-mails that had been stored for fewer than 181 days, the Government filed a motion to compel production of the e-mails’ content. The ISP claimed the information sought required a search warrant. The Court ruled that the Stored Communications Act (SCA), required the ISP to comply with the Government’s subpoena if the e-mails are held or maintained solely to provide the customer storage or computer processing services.
The court further ruled that previously opened e-mails stored by the ISP for web-based e-mail systems—as distinguished from other e-mail systems—are not in “electronic storage,” which is defined by the Wiretap Act as storage incidental to electronic transmission and for the purposes of backup protection of the e-mail. Based on this finding, the court ordered the ISP to comply fully with the Government’s subpoena.
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Source: United States v. Weaver, 2009 WL 2163478 (C.D. Ill. July 15, 2009).