Is the NSA monitoring your cellphone, email, data you stored “in the cloud” and your banking records without a warrant?

(c) 2013 Brenda Grantland
Truth and Justice Blog, 12/12/2013


If you are a person whose lifestyle, ethnicity, politics or past history gives a government agency a reason to suspect or dislike you, the NSA or other law enforcement agencies may already be snooping into your data stored online — without a warrant.

All an agent needs is an administrative subpoena, issued by a law enforcement agency. For most types of data it doesn’t require a search warrant.  Unlike a warrant — which requires a judge to review a written affidavit containing sworn allegations and determine whether it establishes probable cause to believe a crime has been committed — an administrative subpoena is done entirely in-house by the investigating agency. No judge is involved.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 allows law enforcement to obtain the following by subpoena, no warrant required:
• email which has been on the company’s server for 180 days (if less than 180 days, a warrant is required)
• a list of the phone numbers you have dialed, or who have dialed you
• data stored “in the cloud” may also be obtained by subpoena under the same rationale as email, according to the Krebs’ on Security blog: “Help Bring Privacy Laws Into 21st Century.”


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