Storing our Lives Online: Expanded Email Storage Raises Complex Policy Issues

Privacy and Security, Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing and Cloud Computing

Article Snapshot


Indrani Mondal, Deirdre Mulligan and Ari Schwartz


I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Vol. 1, Issue 2, 2005


This paper looks at the privacy of email stored online.

Policy Relevance

United States privacy law should be updated to give more protection to messages stored online.

Main Points

  • In the United States, privacy protection comes mainly from the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

  • Supreme Court cases say that information disclosed to a business gets less privacy protection. These cases no longer make sense because we now store a lot of private information with businesses.

  • ECPA gives messages less privacy protection the longer they have been stored. Most people do not know this and it makes little sense.

  • When people store email messages online, the messages get less privacy protection than if they were stored on personal computers in their homes, or while they are being transmitted over a network.

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