Now that our communication with others is mostly electronic, we would think that the laws that govern our communications and the protections that we receive regarding those communications would evolve as well. Not.so. Ordinarily, when the government wants to search your mail, or your office records, or really any of your person, place, or things, they must get a search warrant that is supported by probable cause.
However, a 1968 law (note: this is way before ipad’s, computers, internet, cell phone, etc.), the Electronic Communications Privacy (yeah right!) Act, allows the government to search certain emails, cell phone records and other electronic communications by showing only that they have reasonable grounds to believe the information will be relevant and material to an investigation. This is a laughable standard and very easy to prove- almost anything can be arguably relevant to an investigation.
The worst part about this law is that the court orders that allow the government to have access to these communications are secret- meaning you will never know that the government has been reading your emails. Additionally, the government usually prevents the ISP or company that provides you your electronic service from notifying you that they have given access to the government.
If you think that this law is unacceptable, you should write to your senators and tell them to repeal this law and require that officers obtain search warrants supported by probable cause before invading your electronic privacy. Most importantly, BEWARE OF WHAT YOU SAY ELECTRONICALLY!