Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Confidentiality, Amendment, Belief, Communication, Email, Warrant, Internet, Authority

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2021/02/17

In the case of United States v Warshak, the government argues that the ex part seizure of Warsak’s private emails did not violate the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizure by contending that they relied to the provision of the Stored Communication Act that allows the government authorities to compel a service provider to disclose the electronic communications of their users under compelling circumstances. The government invoked the doctrine of reliance in good faith where the exclusionary clause provided in the Fourth Amendment will exculpate the government authorities from liabilities (Clancy, 2011). Thus, they justified their act as having relied in good faith in the provisions of the Stored Communication Act, thereby exempting them from being accountable for their conduct of obtaining access to Warshak’s emails.
The court views email as similar to the traditional forms of communication that deserves protection under the Fourth Amendment as it contains private communication and intimate information that likewise warrant reasonable expectation of privacy. In this light, the same protection must be accorded to emails as a private form of communication under the Fourth Amendment. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) is likened to a post office or a telephone company where the communication system passes through, and the same must also be given the guarantee of protection against unreasonable seize and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Because of these similarities between an email and other forms of private communication, if an email is not given the same reasonable expectation of privacy, the Fourth Amendment cannot effectively guard all forms of private communication (Martin and Cendrowski, 2014).
The court held that the subscriber enjoys a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of emails that are stored with, sent or received through a commercial ISP because emails contain private information that must not be divulged to a third party without the email owner’s consent. Commercial ISP is considered to be a modern technology that is responsible for the transmission of private messages in emails and the stored messages within its system are covered under the unreasonable search and seizure protection provided by the Fourth Amendment. In order for a third person to gain access to the private information stored in the ISP, a warrant is required to ensure the protection of the citizens to messages containing private information. To do so without a warrant is an intrusion to the right of privacy by the email user served by the ISP. A reasonable cause must be established in order to justify the intrusion of privacy of a private individual.
The part of the Stored Communications Act that was held to be unconstitutional is that which allows the government to obtain access to emails of private individuals without the need of a search warrant. The express grant of the Act for a warrantless search of private emails is considered to be a violation of the provision of the Fourth Amendment and therefore is invalid. Section 2703 of the Act requires that law enforcements will be require a search warrant to access the contents of emails in electronic storage by the ISP when less than 180 days. The search warrant is no longer required, only a subpoena when retrieving those those are more than 180 days. This part of the Act that does not require the search warrant, but only a subpoena was declared as unconstitutional as it removes the due process required to establish a probable cause that will justify the disclosure of private email contents.
The court held that although there was a violation of the right of Warshak under the Fourth Amendment, the court still upheld the admission of the email content as an evidence that sustains the conviction of Warshak because the manner of procuring the evidence was not covered by the exclusionary clause in the Fourth Amendment under the doctrine of doctrine of reliance in good faith. The doctrine provides an exception from incurring liabilities when the authorities rely in good faith that their conduct was lawful under a valid statute (Vile and Hudson, 2013). Until the statute from which the authorities relied on was declared as unconstitutional, the authorities are deemed to have acted lawfully when they ordered the ISP to disclose the content of Warshak’s emails.


Clancy, T. K. (2011). Cyber crime and digital evidence: Materials and cases. Austria: LexisNexis.
Martin, J.P. and Cendrowski, H. (2014). Cloud computing and electronic discovery. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Vile, J.R. and Hudson, D.L. (2013). Encyclopedia of Fourth Amendment. London: Sage Publication.

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WePapers. (2021, February, 17) United States V Warshak Essay Sample. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/
"United States V Warshak Essay Sample." WePapers, 17 Feb. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/. Accessed 20 May 2022.
WePapers. 2021. United States V Warshak Essay Sample., viewed May 20 2022, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/>
WePapers. United States V Warshak Essay Sample. [Internet]. February 2021. [Accessed May 20, 2022]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/
"United States V Warshak Essay Sample." WePapers, Feb 17, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/
WePapers. 2021. "United States V Warshak Essay Sample." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved May 20, 2022. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/).
"United States V Warshak Essay Sample," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 17-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/. [Accessed: 20-May-2022].
United States V Warshak Essay Sample. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/united-states-v-warshak-essay-sample/. Published Feb 17, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2022.

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