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Issues: Privacy

Access to customer information from Internet infrastructure providers should follow due process of law.

In some instances, law enforcement agencies have a legitimate need to access personal online data—but government access to data must be preceded by due process procedures set out in the 4th Amendment in regards to search and seizure.

United States law is clear on the privacy of phone calls and other non-digital communications: government officials and agencies need a search warrant based on probable cause to gain access. However, such protections don’t extend to email.

A warrant is needed for messages located on the computer of a sender or receiver, but messages older than 180 days can be obtained from the servers of Internet infrastructure providers and other third parties with only a subpoena or court order. A court order can be based on a standard lower than probable cause, and many agencies can issue themselves a subpoena without an outside judge.

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