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Wilkow: Can the IRS Access Your Email Without Warrant?


Documents recently obtained by the ACLU from the IRS have caused a stir as they reveal that the agency has indicated in recent years that American Internet users "do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy" when it comes to emails. The documents now out in open show that in 2009, before the 2010 case of United States V. Warshak in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Criminal Tax Division at the IRS claimed in an internal handbook that in general “the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server.” 

ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler wrote in the 2010 case that the court decided a warrant would be needed from authorities to obtain communications from email providers. However, documents obtained in the FOIA request dated after this 2010 decision, according to the ACLU, reveal that the IRS did not appear to have revised its policy accordingly regarding obtaining warrants:

The IRS had an opportunity to officially reconsider its position when it issued edits to the Internal Revenue Manual in March 2011. But its policy stayed the same: the Manual explained that under ECPA, “Investigators can obtain everything in an account except for unopened e-mail or voice mail stored with a provider for 180 days or less using a [relevant-and-material-standard] court order” instead of a warrant. Again, no suggestion that the Fourth Amendment might require more.

Andrew Wilkow was in disbelief on TheBlaze TV Thursday to how this could even be possible.  Say the IRS comes across an email exchange between you and your lawyer, does attorney client privilege no longer apply? And if the IRS is bending the Constitution and disregarding your privacy, is it not only a matter of time before other government agencies start doing the same.?

Watch a clip from Thursday's show with guest Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice below:


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