Government officials investigating the WikiLeaks controversy have made one thing evident with the investigation: They do not believe it violates the 4th Amendment to search information on cellphones and in emails without a warrant or even notification of the person being searched.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the government has obtained a secret court order to force Google Inc. and small Internet provider Sonic.net Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum. The smaller company fought the order but lost, and both were required to release partial emails and addresses of those with whom Appelbaum had corresponded with over the past two years.
The article said the order vindicates suspicions many people have about the government’s ability to peek into individuals’ email accounts and observe online tendencies without their ever knowing they were investigated. The law that is supposed to protect Internet users from Big Brother’s spying eyes, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, was passed in 1986, before the World Wide Web existed.
The government has also considered using cellphone GPS to pinpoint the location of individuals without their knowledge, a process that a Federal court called “Orwellian” when it overruled a government request to obtain cellphone location records without a warrant.