The IRS Is Up In All Of Your Email, Warrantlessly; but Fret Not, Peons, It Is For Your Own Good

What kind of hippy would object to spending half of our taxes on war anyways?
What kind of hippy would object to spending half of our taxes on war anyways?

The ACLU reported on Wednesday that the IRS may be reading Americans’ emails without a warrant, because all Americans are now terrorists tax evasion is just like terrorism look because they can OK jeez you people with all your Constitution this and Constitution that shut up already!

The ACLU says:

In 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in United States v. Warshak that the government must obtain a probable cause warrant before compelling email providers to turn over messages.

However, the IRS hasn’t told the public whether it is following Warshak everywhere in the country, or only within the Sixth Circuit.

The documents the ACLU obtained make clear that, before Warshak, it was the policy of the IRS to read people’s email without getting a warrant. Not only that, but the IRS believed that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to email at all.

After Warshak, the IRS tried to limit the impact of the ruling by emphasizing to its agents that it applied only in the Sixth Circuit (this covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee), and by advising elsewhere that IRS agents should collect email warrantlessly unless the target’s ISP drags out the process by daring to object.

Grits for Breakfast reminds us that many Internet companies have asked Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to explicitly require a warrant for email, including Amazon, Apple, AT&T, eBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Twitter. However, last time such a proposal came up in the Senate, it was stripped out at the last minute, because seriously guys just because you’re all like “I am a democratically elected US Senator” and stuff, do you really think that you can go up against the deep state and win?


Senator Leahy, who proposed it, has been a senator since 1975, before I was born; wonder how much compromising stuff they were able to find in his emails?

The Justice Department, on its side, has recently dropped its opposition to warrant protection for email contents but is arguing that everything else about an email – its subject line, sender, recipient, time sent and location sent from – should not require a warrant.

I’m unlikely to be on the wrong end of an IRS audit any time soon. But could the government just drop its pretense that warrantless surveillance is restricted to the people over there who are possibly plotting to TAKE OUR FREEDOMS? It is clearly about all of us, and has been for some time. As warrantless surveillance advances, what are the institutional barriers, really, to the deep state blackmailing elected representatives to thwart reform? If you give a truly free hand to law enforcement, it cripples our elected leadership as much as the rest of us. Why was the Bush administration never prosecuted for ordering torture? Too many of the Democratic leadership were implicated too, and both Democrats and Republicans were at the mercy of agencies who had no wish to be held accountable for what they had done.

The Praetorian Guard was set up for the sake of national security too, and ended up making and unmaking emperors according to which candidate would give them the most money with the least accountability; in the end, it took the relocation of the capital to stop them. Now that our leaders have put our security agencies in the catbird seat, what will it take to exert actual democratic control over them?

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