4th Amendment: Search Warrant Application for all Email Accounts Overbroad in Criminal Case.

Warrant applications by federal law enforcement officers to search all of the contents in the e-mail accounts of individuals suspected of purchasing stolen computer equipment were too broad and too general to pass Fourth Amendment scrutiny, The following summary is from a web site entitled Technology Law Source (http://www.technologylawsource.com) In The Matter of Applications for Search Warrants for Information Associated with Target Email Accounts/Skype Accounts, 13-MJ-8163 (Aug. 27, 2013). The line between content and metadata was addressed by Magistrate Judge David Waxse in the criminal context when the Government submitted five applications for search warrants seeking to require Google, GoDaddy, Verizon Internet Services, Yahoo! and Skype to disclose the contents of all emails, instant messages, and chat logs/sessions for certain accounts. Magistrate Judge Waxse applied the Sixth Circuit’s reasoning in United States v. Warshak, 631 F.3d 266 (6th Cir. 2010), and concluded that an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in emails stored with, sent to or received through an electronic communications service provider. Accordingly, Magistrate Judge Waxse held that the proposed warrants violated the Fourth Amendment because they were too broad and too general and failed to “create a nexus between the suspected crime and the email communications and related account information to be obtained and searched.” The proposed warrants would have given “the government virtual carte blanche to review the content of all electronic communications associated with the accounts and fail[ed] to adequately limit the discretion of the government-authorized agents executing the warrants.”