Monday, August 15, 2005

Appeals Court Revives E-Mail Eavesdropping Case

On Thursday the full First Circuit Court of Appeals revived a Wiretap Act prosecution against an executive who read customer e-mails, overruling both the District Court judge and an earlier ruling by the First Circuit.

The company the executive worked in had a free e-mail service, and on the orders of the executive, secretly stored and read customer e-mails from, for business reasons.

In 5-2 decision, the full Circuit Court ruled that the interception of the e-mails could be a violation of the federal wireapping laws.

In a dissent, one Appeals Court Judge said the Wiretap law did not apply.

"If Interloc did intercept its customers' messages in breach of a privacy agreement, the remedy lies in contract, not in the Wiretap Act," he wrote.

The First Circuit ruled that Congress intended the wiretapping prohibitions to cover electonicaly stored messages "intrinsic to the communications process."


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