Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reading someone's Gmail doesn't violate federal statute, court finds

"In a case decided on Wednesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that accessing someone’s online e-mail without their permission doesn’t violate the 1986-era Stored Communications Act (SCA). Though they differed in their reasoning, the justices were unanimous in ruling that e-mail stored in the cloud (like Gmail or Yahoo Mail) does not meet the definition of electronic storage as written in the statute.

This new decision creates a split with existing case law (Theofel v. Farey-Jones) as decided in a 2004 case decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision found that an e-mail message that was received, read, and left on a server (rather than being deleted) did constitute storage "for purposes of backup protection," and therefore was also defined as being kept in "electronic storage.""

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