For those of you who believe the government requires a warrant in order to obtain your e-mails from an ISP’s server you would be partially correct. As the law sits now any e-mail left on a server for more than six months is considered abandoned and thus can be obtained without the hassle of a search warrant. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been trying to change this law for a while now but the current critters in the White House are urging Congress to prevent such measures from being adopted. James A. Baker, the associated deputy attorney general, stated the following in relation to the subject:
Congress should recognize the collateral consequences to criminal law enforcement and the national security of the United States if ECPA were to provide only one means — a probable cause warrant — for compelling disclosure of all stored content. For example, in order to obtain a search warrant for a particular e-mail account, law enforcement has to establish probable cause to believe that evidence will be found in that particular account. In some cases, this link can be hard to establish. In one recent case, for example, law enforcement officers knew that a child exploitation subject had used one account to send and receive child pornography, and officers discovered that he had another email account, but they lacked evidence about his use of the second account.
First let’s hand Mr. Baker bonus points for using child pornography since we know anything to “protect the children” is good. Second don’t we see having to provide evidence in order to obtain a warrant just gets in the way? Hell we should all support legislation that would allow the government to just walk into our homes whenever the fuck they want. Not supporting such legislation simply means you have something to hide and thus are likely a terrorist.
I also love how law enforcement officers know a target was sending and receiving child pornography via one e-mail account but were upset that they couldn’t access the other e-mail account which they had no evidence against. Guess what? That’s what we call due process and at one time was believed to be the basis of our legal system.
This is probably the best reason to have your own mail server. If you own the mail server it doesn’t matter how old any e-mail stored on the system is as the government requires one of those pesky warrants in order to sieze it.