How private are your personal emails? - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Tech

How private are your emails?

  • Inside KAIT8.comMore>>

  • Consumer

    Scam emails from IRS, AmEx, USAA

    More phishing scams that may show up in your inbox

    Crooks are posing as legitimate companies - even the Federal government - to try and take advantage of you. Here's what you need to know to steer clear of these three different email traps.
    Crooks are posing as legitimate companies - even the Federal government - to try and take advantage of you. Here's what you need to know to steer clear of these three different email traps.
  • Facebook privacy settings not a fail-safe

    Facebook privacy settings not a fail-safe

    We have talked to you before about how "digital is forever" and to assume that your personal conversations could be exposed. Still, many of us expect a reasonable amount of privacy if we take the time
    We have talked to you before about how "digital is forever" and to assume that your personal conversations could be exposed. Still, many of us expect a reasonable amount of privacy if we take the time to turn on privacy settings. 
  • New Facebook privacy settings

    New Facebook privacy settings

    It seems like everyone is vying for your online posts. Facebook wants you to post your life on their site.  Google+ recently launched it's service trying to do the same thing. Although Facebook has a Safety
    The social networking site has listened to users and is keeping up with the competition by offering new built-in privacy features.
  • Protecting your privacy online

    How safe is your privacy online?

    You may not know it but armed with just your name and a computer, a stranger can find out a lot about you. There are dozens of websites that collect information about consumers. Information you may think
    You may not know it but armed with just your name and a computer, a stranger can find out a lot about you.

When a young man hacked into Governor Sarah Palin's account and posted her emails, he was convicted of a misdemeanor charge.

Now we're hearing the exact opposite decision was made in a South Carolina courtroom and it is leaving security and privacy experts concerned that this sets a bad example for other would-be email hackers. 

"We all have some semblance of expecting our personal email correspondence stored by email providers like Google and Yahoo is safe from unauthorized access. We realize hackers might get in but in our minds, that's breaking the law and if they were found they would be punished," says Cyber Expert Theresa Payton. 

The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that such data in not protected by the Stored Communications Act (SCA). 

To the layman, snooping into someone's emails is considered wrong. To us, this appears to be black and white, but it clearly is not. Until we get laws that have caught up with the digital age, we will continue to have court case decisions that will be hard to predict or explain.

THIS CASE:

Husband, Lee Jennings, was confronted by his wife about an affair.  Once he admitted to the affair, she worked with another person to guess his password for his email account and read his email messages.  Many of his messages were printed and turned over to her divorce attorney in building a case against him.  Lee sued his wife and ultimately lost in the SC Supreme Court.

WHY THIS IS HARD FOR THE COURTS:

1.  LAWS ARE OLD:  Many of the laws on the books are old.  Some have been "retro-fitted" to add digital.

2.  LACK OF PRECEDENCE:  Courts go by laws and also follow case precedents.  In this case, the court reviewed the SCA law and said it did not fit this particular case.

3.  LACK OF PREDICTABILITY:   Many expected the husband to win this case, but the SC Supreme Court Justices ruled that since his emails were not created for the purpose of backing up his data, the emails are not covered by the SCA.

4.  WHAT IS THE SCA?   Stored Communications Act.  This covers the protection of electronic storage.  However, the SC Supreme Court does not see your email inbox or folders as "storage" even though the SCA says "any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof."

The Justices ruled that since the correspondence in the plaintiff's emails were not created for the purpose of backing up the data, the information does not warrant protection from intrusion under the Act.

5.  COMMENTS FROM THE SC SUPREME COURT:  Chief Justice Jean Toal noted that an item can only be considered protected by the SCA if it was both "unopened and kept as backup protection." She also wrote, "Because the emails were already opened by Jennings when they were retrieved and printed out by Broome, they reached their final destination and fell outside the definition of electronic storage under the statute."

WEB RESOURCES:

To read the decision of the court, click here

For background on the SCA, click here.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved. 

Powered by WorldNow

472 Craighead Co. 766
Jonesboro, AR 72401
(870) 931-8888

FCC Public File
publicfile@kait8.com
(870) 336-1816
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KAIT. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.