Privacy of Stored Communications

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Privacy of Stored Communications

Postby Administrator » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:56 pm

Privacy of Stored Communications

The law also protects voice mail and electronic mail (e-mail) in electronic storage. 18 U.S.C. 2701, et. seq. (1994). The statute defines electronic storage as "(A)ny temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof; and (B) any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for purposes of backup protection of such communication." 18 U.S.C. 2510(17). To be in electronic storage within the meaning of the statute, an electronic communication must be in storage as a by-product, or incidental feature, of the transmission of the message. Storage for record keeping purposes is not covered.


It is unlawful for anyone intentionally to access without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided, or intentionally to exceed authorization to access that facility, and thereby obtain, alter or prevent authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage. 18 U.S.C. 2701 (1994). Anyone who provides an electronic communication service or remote computing services to the public is prohibited from voluntarily disclosing the contents of an electronic communication stored or maintained on the service. 18 U.S.C. 2702 (1994); 18 U.S.C. 2711(2) (1994).


There are several important exceptions to these non-disclosure provisions: stored content may be disclosed with the lawful consent of the originator, an addressee, or the intended recipient of such communication;18 U.S.C. 2702(b)(3), a service provider may disclose content incident to its rendition of service or to protect the rights of the provider;18 U.S.C. 2702(b)(5), and disclosure to a law enforcement agency is permitted if the contents were inadvertently obtained and appear to pertain to the commission of a crime. 18 U.S.C. 2702(b)(6).
David A. Szwak
Bodenheimer, Jones & Szwak, LLC
416 Travis Street, Suite 1404, Mid South Tower
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
318-424-1400 / Fax 221-6555
President, Bossier Little League
Chairman, Consumer Protection Section, Louisiana State Bar Association

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