Here’s the difference between your legal right to privacy online and your legal right to privacy offline:
If the government wants to obtain a document stored in your home file cabinet, the law requires a warrant signed by a judge. The warrant needs to show that there’s probable cause that such an intrusion of your privacy will expose proof of illegal activity.
Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, however, some government agencies argue that they don’t need a warrant to access your online data. They simply send a subpoena — which doesn’t require a judge’s signature or the same burden of proof — to the Internet service.
To be clear, Google requires a search warrant before releasing any data relating to contents of Gmail or other Google services.
That said, the number of requests from law enforcement to Google are growing — in the first half of this year, Google received 10,918 requests for information about our users from government investigators in the US. That’s an increase of 205% since 2009.
It’s time for the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect our privacy in more than name only — a warrant should always be required when the government wants to read your email or any other form of online communication.
Do you agree? Sign the White House petition now: