Searches and seizures of electronic email, are a hot issue right now. We expect to see an increase in the number of court cases related to email and other electronic searches, particularly based around the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. And this March, Federal Judge John Facciola issued a strong rebuke to the US Justice Department, which has been claiming a broad authority to seize emails in its investigations.
Facts and Legal Background of the case
In the case of property, a warrant must describe with particularity the places to be searched and the evidence to be seized; Judge Facciola’s opinion indicates that the same restriction should be applied to email, noting that, “prosecutors must show probable cause for everything they seize,” and “Internet companies can easily search for specific emails, names and dates that are relevant to an investigation.”
Implications of Judge Facciola’s decision
Since Judge Facciola is a trial judge, this does not create a precedent, and he acknowledges that other trial-level courts across the country have reached different decisions with regard to email seizure. For example, some courts permit the Justice Department to search all emails, as long as they only “seize” the ones that are relevant.
Possible applications in the future of this decision regarding email archival
However, there are some interesting potential applications of the Judge Facciola’s decision, should it become the law down the road, to email archival. Because internet companies can search emails easily and effectively, the Justice Department’s interest in being able to read every email is not terribly strong. They might then be required to make more specific requests. But what might happen if emails were not able to be easily searched?
Well, then the Justice Department might have more interest in being able to look through all of a company’s emails. That’s why it’s in your best interest to have effective email archiving. By having the ability to search archived emails, you don’t open your company up to overly broad requests from the government. This is where we come in – if you need an affordable best of the class email archiving solution, contact us and we’ll help you set up a system.