Monday, December 3, 2012

Government Archeologists

  Given the recent scandal with former CIA Director David Petraeus and his supposed affair many questions about the effectiveness and oversight of certain government organizations have risen. But this article raises questions more pertanent to the average citizen.
  For example, the article claims that after an email is 180 days past sent the US government can look at it without a warrant. Is this true? Have they looked at my email? Can it be stopped? These are the questions being asked in the wake of the affair and some of the answers may scare you.
Steve Greenberg
  According to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 a government agency can look through your private electronic communications once they have been read and stored for a significant amount of time, 180 days being the precedent, but not while in transit. However, this piece of legislation coupled with other legislation allows government agencies to do a number of things like track your cellphone in real time, remotely track you using a GPS on your car, and has asked several agencies like Facebook and Twitter for back doors to track information.
  Now not all of this is as scary as it might sound. A lot of these examples and others have been overturned once they are taken to the Supreme Court. Also, many of these are only allowed through special executive orders like the USA PATRIOT Act and the NDAA which focus primarily on combating domestic and foreign terrorism.
  But as one Computer Science Major at Kennesaw State University, Cody Skinner eloquently put it:

Freedom House
"If the government went through my phone right now, I wouldn't be arrested, I wouldn't be suspected of terrorism... but I would feel violated. There's no reason I should have to bend over and let the government go through all of my personal stuff."

  And how true? Do we really want the government to be allowed to dig through our electronic wallets? Many are concerned that this will begin to turn the US government into a much more controlling government in the way Iran, Russia, and China try to. In fact, SOPA and PIPA were recent pieces of US legislation and the ITU just started it's most recent conference in Dubai today. All of these things have been moves by governing bodies attempting to limit the freedom and privacy of the internet.


  1. Nice, reflective and informative post.

  2. Is the 180 day precedent true? Does that mean the govt can look thru my facebook timeline whenever they want? That would be disappointing.

  3. According to this, , emails in the US lose their protected status after 180 days. All that is needed to look through them is a subpena, however, this changes depending on where the information is housed, the geographical location of the server.