In a statement today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
officially came out in support
of Yahoo and their attempt to block a government request for access to a private email account. The sticking point here is that the government is seeking access based on probable cause and does not have a warrant. The nature of the case is unknown as all details are sealed.
The case being made by federal investigators is that since the individual has accessed the email, it is no longer "electronic storage" as defined by the Stored Communications Act (SCA), and therefore no warrant is required. This position does not have legal precedence, and strikes us as a bit nutty. Yahoo is in the process of challenging the government request citing the SCA and Fourth Amendment. The EFF court brief is expected to be of help in the case.
"The government is trying to evade federal privacy law and the Constitution," said EFF Attorney Kevin Bankston. The EFF is also pushing for government action to clarify privacy rights when it comes to technology. The EFF's brief was also signed by Google, NetCoalition, and the Distributed Computing Industry Association among others. If Yahoo is unsuccessful in their defense, this could have serious privacy ramifications for personal data storage.