Google™ and Sonic.net Inc forced to turn over e-mail information
The U.S. government has issued clandestine orders to put pressure on Google and Sonic.net to turn over information related to the e-mail account of Wikileaks volunteer, Jacob Appelbaum, reports Wall Street Journal.
Wall Street Journal has claimed that according to the documents reviewed by them, the U.S. government procured a secret court order to force the Internet and e-mail service providers of Jacob Appelbaum into revealing details about his personal e-mail accounts. Applebaum, a computer security researcher, was in news for representing the Wikileaks Hope conference in 2010. His association with Wikileaks has put him under scrutiny of the government. He has been allegedly detained five times by the U.S. authorities while returning from abroad and his laptops and mobile phones were seized. The government has requested the service providers to share information pertaining to the e-mail address of the people that Applebaum corresponded with, for the past two years.
Confirming the incident, Sonic.net told Wall Street Journal that it did all it could in order to challenge the order, but eventually lost. The report from WSJ quoted Dane Jasper, chief executive at Sonic.net, “Challenging the order was rather expensive, but we felt it was the right thing to do.” According to sources, Google and Sonic.net insisted on apprising Mr. Applebaum of the order.
The latest revelation has once again brought focus to the federal law (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) that gives the government the right to obtain details from people’s e-mail's and cell phones without prior intimation or a valid search warrant. In the past, several federal courts have voiced against the constitutional propriety of the law, "The police may not storm the post office and intercept a letter, and they are likewise forbidden from using the phone system to make a clandestine recording of a telephone call—unless they get a warrant. It only stands to reason that, if government agents compel an [Internet service provider] to surrender the contents of a subscriber's e-mails, those agents have thereby conducted a Fourth Amendment search."
Judge Danny Boggs wrote after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the government violated the fourth amendment of the constitution when they procured the order to scan 27000 e-mails without a search warrant.