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Government Is Free to Obtain E-mail Addresses and Internet Search Addresses
Description Appeals court upheld a criminal conviction where evidence had been obtained, without a warrant, by use of Internet access by defendant that showed e-mail addresses, inbound and outbound, and website addresses visited. No warrant is required to obtain such information.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Fourth Amendment; Evidence; Computer Surveillance
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Alba was charged with manufacturing Ecstasy. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He appealed, claiming the government's surveillance of his e-mail and Internet activity violated the Fourth Amendment.
Decision Affirmed. The use of a pen register, a device that records numbers dialed from a phone line, is not a Fourth Amendment search. The use of computer surveillance techniques that revealed the to and from addresses of e-mail messages, the addresses of websites visited by defendant, and the total amount of data transmitted to or from the defendant's internet account did not amount to a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. E-mail and internet users have no expectation of privacy in the addresses of their e-mail messages or the addresses of the websites that they visited, as such information is accessed through ISP and other third parties. The addresses themselves do not reveal the contents of the communications.
Citation U.S. v. Forrester,---F.3d--- (2007 WL 2120271, 9th Cir., 2007)

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