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IRS: No warrant needed to access emails

April 11, 2013 at 8:24 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- The Internal Revenue Service says it does not need warrants to access people's emails, agency documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The ACLU released information from the IRS 2009 handbook obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday.

In it, the IRS says the Fourth Amendment doesn't protect emails or texts because Internet users "do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications."

The IRS cites the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which states government officials only need a subpoena to read emails that have already been opened or are more than 180 days old, The Hill reported. The subpoena would not require a judge's approval.

The ACLU said the Fourth Amendment provides greater privacy than the IRS and ECPA say, and that all officials should have to obtain a warrant to access such information.

Lawmakers are currently working on legislation that would update ECPA to require a warrant to obtain private online messages, The Hill reported.

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