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IRS Claims It Can Read E-mails Without Warrant

From CNET News:

IRS claims it can read your e-mail without a warrant

The ACLU has obtained internal IRS documents that say Americans enjoy "generally no privacy" in their e-mail messages, Facebook chats, and other electronic communications.

By Declan McCullagh | April 10, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.

Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy "generally no privacy" in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications — meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.

That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans’ e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone’s home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.

Who knows? The IRS might actually be right. After all, they are the only branch of government where you are presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that "emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual’s computer." The handbook was prepared by the Office of Chief Counsel for the Criminal Tax Division and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act…

The IRS continued to take the same position, the documents indicate, even after a federal appeals court ruled in the 2010 case U.S. v. Warshak that Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail. A few e-mail providers, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, but not all, have taken the position that Warshak mandates warrants for e-mail…

A March 2011 update to the IRS manual, published four months after the Warshak decision, says that nothing has changed and that "investigators can obtain everything in an account except for unopened e-mail or voice mail stored with a provider for 180 days or less" without a warrant. An October 2011 memorandum (PDF) from IRS senior counsel William Spatz took a similar position.

What does the IRS care about a Supreme Court ruling or even the Constitution? They have money to collect. Money that belongs to the government.

A phalanx of companies, including Amazon, Apple, AT&T, eBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Twitter, as well as liberal, conservative, and libertarian advocacy groups, have asked Congress to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to make it clear that law enforcement needs warrants to access private communications and the locations of mobile devices…

Good luck with that.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, April 11th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “IRS Claims It Can Read E-mails Without Warrant”

  1. Astravogel

    “Say it with flowers, or say it with mink,
    but never never say it in ink!” Folks, you might
    want to study crypto machines, such as the Enigma
    or M-209, and how they were broken. You can
    get both really fun simulators on the ‘Net; I
    suggest Dirk Rijmenants’ versions. Still working
    on the pigeon code…

  2. Petronius

    And to think that we fought a nine-year war over a picayune Stamp Tax.

    You can’t blame George III or Lord North for this.

    We did this to ourselves.

    • This tells us everything we need to know about record keeping for background checks on gun purchases. The pols will swear up and down, on their mother’s grave, that it will be “secure”. Sure just like the medical records fiasco.

      Every little piece of a right we surrender (free speech, guns, privacy) we’ll never get back.

      By the way, what ever happened to the sacrosanct “right to privacy” liberals have always screamed about? Never matters if they own the government. These people are a menace, a grave danger to our nation.

  3. canary

    Just wait Obama Care allows the IRS to take money from your bank accounts and take possession of your homes, cars, and everything you own. I guess imprisonment would come next.

    I wonder if all that ammo DHS is collecting is for a newly armed IRS Military.
    Just like the old days tax collectors coming to your doors.


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