Feds: e-mail subpoena ruling hurts law enforcement

Monday, 8 March 2004, 2:29 PM EST

A federal appeals court has declined to reverse last year's decision that the issuance of an egregiously overbroad subpoena for e-mail can qualify as a computer intrusion in violation of anti-hacking laws, despite an argument by the Justice Department that a side-effect of the ruling has already made it harder for law enforcement officials to obtain Americans' private e-mail.

The defendant in the case, Alwyn Farey-Jones, was embroiled in commercial litigation with two officers of Integrated Capital Associates (ICA) when he instructed his then-attorney, Iryna Kwasny, to send a subpoena to the company's Internet service provider -- California-based NetGate. Under federal civil rules, a litigant can issue such a subpoena without prior approval from the court, but is required to "take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense" on the recipient.

By Kevin Poulsen at SecurityFocus.

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