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Apr 18, 2010

Congratulations Yahoo.

The U.S. Justice Department has abruptly abandoned what had become a high-profile court fight to read Yahoo users' e-mail messages without obtaining a search warrant first.

In a two-page brief filed Friday, the Obama administration withdrew its request for warrantless access to the complete contents of the Yahoo Mail accounts under investigation. CNET was the first to report on the Denver case in an article on Tuesday.

Yahoo's efforts to fend off federal prosecutors' broad request attracted allies--in the form of Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Progress and Freedom Foundation--who argued that Americans who keep their e-mail in the cloud enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
For some time the US justice Department has been fighting Yahoo on this issue and has been determined to secure the ability to have access to Emails without demonstrating any sort of probable cause. What the government is trying to slither around their own privacy laws and the Constitution. There is no reason why users should not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mails.

It is my belief that the government intended to pick off one company in order to establish a precedent, but when faced with a serious group of interested parties, decided to back off owing to the serious consequences of losing. To lose the case on grounds of the Fourth Amendment which requires police to obtain a warrant to conduct searches would call into question the rather draconian warrantless searches and ‘no knock’ raids used all too frequently in the “war on drugs.”

These searches have cost many lives of innocent people as well as those of police who find themselves being fired on by homeowners who think they are being attacked by home invaders.

In any case it really makes you wonder what sort of sad little people the administration must consist of to feel they should have the right to poke about in normal citizens private communications without their knowledge, without their permission, and without having to give a reason for doing so.


  1. My understanding is that the fight was ONLY about emails over 180 days old, they already AGREED to give up emails over 180 days old. If you send an email to your attorney, that isn't merely private, it is privileged, and none of our emails should go to the government without warrant.

    They are DEFINTELY part of our 'personal effects' under the Constitution.

  2. Agreed Anon, It confuses me somewhat why Emails more than 180 days old cease to be private. Is there some reason why they are not considered to be 'personal effects' as I see no reason for them to be any different.