Sunday, July 11, 2004

Interloc Case and "Stored Communications"

Editorial: You've got wiretap/Laws on e-mail need upgrade

Interloc was prosecuted under a 1986 federal law that prohibited interception of "electronic communications," putting e-mail in the same protected category as telephone calls and face-to-face conversations. But in the trial, and then on appeal, an Interloc supervisor argued successfully that what he'd been snooping through were really "stored communications," covered by a different and somewhat looser law, also enacted by Congress in 1986.

Among some Internet-dependent companies, there is concern that too radical a rewriting of the act would torpedo new services -- such as Google's Gmail, now in the testing stages -- that will machine-scan e-mail as a way of identifying consumer appetites, which can then be addressed with even more advertising.

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Bill Holmes
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