Today is Monday, September 25, 2017, 2:19 pm, PST.

Could the IRS May Be Reading Your Emails (Without a Warrant)?

Does the IRS Have Access To Your Emails?

With tax season upon us, you may want to think twice about what you email to your accountant or tax attorney regarding your business or your finances. As one attorney knowingly said, “When in doubt, leave it out… and find another means of communicating the information.”

Evidently, the IRS seems to believe that it may be within its jurisdiction to demand that your ISP or cellphone provider turn over emails that are 180 days old and younger without going through the usual judicial processes.

To put it bluntly; the IRS Criminal Tax Division’s Office of Chief Counsel states categorically that “the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.

Does this mean that the IRS will have access to all your emails?
Not necessarily. They may not seek a warrant for emails that are stored with your ISP for 180 days or less, all is up for speculation. NOTE: When questioning such matters, it is absolutely recommended that you to seek proper legal counsel and not rely upon any online or non-certified information (including this article).

Will the IRS Have Access To Emails “Older” Than 180 Days?
Evidently, the IRS does not directly state that they will or will NOT demand such access, according to recent documents obtained through the “Freedom of Information Act” by the American Civil Liberties Union. However, the general sense is that the IRS “feels” that it is within their authority to force ISP’s to comply. The statement above by the IRS’s legal counsel may say it all.

What Does This Mean For You and Your Privacy?
This means that any email communications, text messages and other electronic communications that you send and receive to and from your tax consultants and other financial consultants could possibly be accessed by the IRS without their finding the necessity of obtained a warrant through regular legal channels.

It remains in question whether or not the IRS may successfully use an alternative “administrative summons” to compel one’s ISP or cellphone provider to turn over your personal and private electronic transmission information.

One may want to consult with their ISP and cellphone providers and ask them the following questions:

1. How long do they store emails, text messages and any other transmissions are stored on their servers? and whether or not they share this information with any agencies or other entities?

2. If the IRS demands they turn over this information with an administrative summons, will they comply?

3. How personal and private is the information stored on their servers?

4. What privacy protections are in place?

5. Are any conversations recorded, or are any transmissions stored in the “cloud?”

6. What assurances can they provide that your information will be kept private in the future?

7. What recordings may be made without your knowledge?

8. How private and secure are email, voice or text transmissions over their networks?

Does Protecting One’s Privacy Infer the Hiding of Criminal Information?
Increasingly, many are finding the need to demand that their leaders provide, protect and insure one’s privacy. Does this infer that people wish to hide harmful or criminal activity or information? Not at all, and here’s why.

The protection of personal and private communications is not necessarily to hide harmful or criminal information; but rather, to prevent misuse, misinterpretation and misappropriation of such information without benefit of proper legal counsel and the fair jurisprudence by just, principled governances.

We all say, write and share private thoughts and feelings that can change within an instant. If we are to believe that anything we say can be held against us in a court of law by nebulous governmental overseers, then the very foundations of our peace and well-being will be over-shadowed by a climate of fear, dread and insecurity. How successfully can a society continue with a population living under such a corrosive cloud of intimidation?

Positive knowledge is positive power. The more we know about and share good information, the more we can protect and support ourselves, our loved ones, our entire community. There is power in a wise and informed population.

One final note: It has been said to put fear aside, but rather take action and demand, insist upon being treated with fair and wise jurisprudence. In the end, it is up to us. Fear will tear all apart; action will bring all together.


ADDENDUM
Google does not normally share any private communications of its members or service recipients without proper warrant. Therefore, Gmail and other Google electronic and Internet transmissions may be properly protected. Please contact your service providers for more information.


Sources

12 USC § 3405 – Administrative subpena and summons – Cornell University
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/12/3405

ACLU – Online Privacy Re: New Documents Suggest IRS Reads Emails Without a Warrant
http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-national-security/new-documents-suggest-irs-reads-emails-without-warrant

Electronic Surveillance
http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/electronic_surveillance



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