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Federal Judge Rules Gmail Account Can Be Accessed For Investigation, by evanino in Evanino Blog


In a landmark ruling that might fuel a nationwide debate, the New York Court issued a warrant against Google, giving access to user emails.

A New York Court issued a warrant against Google Inc ruling that the government can access all mails of a Gmail account of an individual under a money laundering probe. The judge said that courts have long been waiting for law enforcement to take the required documents in the custody if it is within the purview of the warrant.

Contrary to previous rulings

This decision is not in line with the previous court rulings including courts in the Districts of Columbia and Kansas, Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York noted on Friday. Also, this latest ruling will spark a debate over the privacy, in the country, according to Computer World.

A District of Columbia judge denied from revealing the entire content of the email as this will seize a large amount of emails for which the authorities have not given any reason.

The Court in Kansas, also, did not rule in favor of a similar warrant, stating that it failed to ‘limit the universe of electronic communications and information to be turned over to the government to the specific crimes being investigated.’

However, the New York Court ruled in favor of such warrant, allowing authorities to take into account the emails and other information from a Google inc’s Gmail account, including the address book and draft mails, and also the authority to search the emails for certain specific categories of evidence.

Experts must scan emails, not Google employee

Judge Gorenstein argued that it is not possible to search the hard-disk drives of computers and other storage devices on the spot due to the complexities of electronic searches. Thus, the authorities can seize such storage.

‘We perceive no constitutionally significant difference between the searches of hard drives just discussed and searches of email accounts,’ the judge wrote. He added that in most of the cases data in an email account will be less ‘expansive’ compared to the information contained in the hard drive.

Judge Gorenstein stated that Google employees are not expert enough to know the importance of particular emails without having been given proper training in the substance of the investigation. Judge said this in response to an opinion by the District of Columbia court that gave the government the option of getting the email scanned by the host itself.

He said that an agent, who is completely absorbed in the investigation, will be able to understand the importance of a particular language in emails contrary to the employee.