There is frequently talk of warrantless spying on citizen communications and online data, but what about how the government and law enforcement can track people — legally? With the scandal between the former CIA Director Gen. David Patreaus and his former mistress Paula Broadwell coming to light thanks to content stored in an email account, many have begun to wonder about the privacy of their own communications.
Tech experts say it really comes down to outdated laws. Laws which Congress is expected to update soon, but this update might not be in favor of more privacy.
The scarier part though is when people don’t even care. As Chris Weber with Casaba, a security consulting firm, said in an email, the sentiment of many regarding surveillance of their communications is that they don’t care since they’re not doing anything bad. “They failed to see the bigger problem here, as it wasn’t about your personal business, it was a larger erosion of civil liberty, and a right to privacy,” Weber said.
Webmail providers like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft retain login records (typically for more than a year) that reveal the particular IP addresses a consumer has logged in from. Although these records reveal sensitive information, including geo-location data associated with the target, U.S. law currently permits law enforcement agencies to obtain these records with a mere subpoena—no judge required.