Back in June, a court ruled that a ISP who read users emails (without consent) had not acted illegally. Essentially, a Bookstore owner who offered free email accounts via his website monitored emails from competitors, such as Amazon, and then used the information to his advantage. The court ruled that he had not violated Wiretap laws. Kevin Bankston, an attorney from the EFF, remarked that "by interpreting the Wiretap Act's privacy protections very narrowly, this court has effectively given Internet communications providers free rein to invade the privacy of their users for any reason and at any time".
Worrying stuff. However, the EFF is asking for the case to be heard again by the first circuit court of Appeals. arguing that the re-trial is necessary because "the Councilman decision disrupts the traditional understanding of Internet surveillance laws, raising significant constitutional questions under the Fourth Amendment." They continue, remarking that the "decision effectively rewrites the field of Internet surveillance law in ways that Congress never intended".
The EFF, Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and the American Library Association (ALA), all hope to reverse the decision in a bid for privacy online. If you want to help them, join up and become a member of a great group.
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