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Tuesday
Nov202012

NLRB Wants to Read Your Email

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has asked for authority to read emails without a warrant. An email privacy bill has been rewritten in the Senate to grant the NLRB, 21 other federal agencies and state and local law enforcement warrantless access to electronic correspondence.

After the FBI reviewed then CIA director David Petraeus’ emails and the events that followed, I was planning on warning you once again to be careful about what you say in emails. See our previous articles Beware of Emails and Beware of What You Post. Now, if federal agencies are to have access to your emails, you must be even more careful.

The bill rewrite would give the NLRB, OSHA, SEC, FTC, Federal Maritime Commission, Postal Regulatory Commission, Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission, Federal Communications Commission and other agencies (22 in all) access to email, Google Docs files, Facebook posts, Twitter messages and other electronic communications. It even would allow warrantless access to electronic correspondence stored on private systems, including university networks. In some instances, the FBI and Homeland Security could have full access to Internet accounts without notifying the owner or a judge.

More on this bill can be found at CNET News. Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants.

With the Senate controlled by one party and the House of Representatives controlled by another, there is a question whether the bill will make it through both chambers in order to get to the President’s desk. Even if it does pass and is signed into law, there is also a question whether the bill violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting warrantless searches. That, though, could take some time to sort out in the courts.

Be careful what you say in an email. From Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, to the Microsoft Antitrust case to the General Petraeus affair, there are numerous examples of individuals and organizations brought down by emails. Now, you should be even more cautious. The NLRB could soon be reading your messages.

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