The IRS Doesn’t Need a Warrant to Read Your Email

The Freedom of Information Act allows Uncle Sam to peek into inboxes.


With only four days left for us to file taxes, the Huffington Post reports on some interesting documents released Wednesday by the Internal Revenue Service, which states that it doesn’t need a warrant to read taxpayers’ emails — or at least some of them.

The files were released to the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act request. The organization is working to determine just how broadly federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI or the IRS’ Criminal Tax Division interpret their authority to snoop through inboxes.

The IRS apparently interprets that authority very broadly, the documents show: as long as you’ve stored your email in a cloud service like Google Mail, and as long as those emails haven’t been deleted after a few months, the agency thinks it doesn’t need a warrant to read them.

The article also adds that, legally, the IRS’s actions are supported by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. That act, which was put in place in 1986, allows all government agencies, including the IRS’ Criminal Tax Division, to search emails older than 180 days without a warrant. Tax Day cometh, so be prepared, and if you’re not, keep that information offline.

Read more at the Huffington Post.