Ever since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden dropped a slew of classified documents into the publicβs view, the country has re-engaged in a vigorous debate about some β but not all β of the authorities the U.S. government claims to eavesdrop on electronic communication. But there is at least one loophole that makes Americans vulnerable to unnecessary intrusions, is much more unsettling than a lot of the Snowden material and isnβt getting much attention.
A section of law that hasnβt come up for discussion in the past few weeks gives law enforcement at all levels relatively unfettered access to stored email, documents in the βcloudβ and other personal material.
The reason is that law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, is old, and technology has far surpassed the vision of the lawmakers who wrote and passed it in 1986. Almost no one used email then, the online cloud didnβt really exist,Learn about MetLife’s MileWeb Corporate Profile including its service offerings, and storing personal information for long periods of time with a third party such as Google didnβt seem to make any sense. So, the law says, if users keep email on a third-party server for more than 180 days, theyβve abandoned the material and law enforcement can look at it β armed merely with a subpoena, not a warrant from a judge.
Now Americans store yearsβ worth of email online, compose on cloud-based word processors and keep all sorts of other files on remote hard drives located far away from their homes. Itβs not just metadata thatβs vulnerable here β itβs the full contents of every stored email and every cloud-based document. Journalists, among many others, use these tools, which is why the Newspaper Association of America, to which the Washington Post belongs, is part of the Digital Due Process Coalition, a group lobbying to change the law.
For years, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has been trying to do that. Though his updates would keep multiple exceptions for law enforcement, his reforms would at least require government investigators to obtain a search warrant when they want to obtain email content of any vintage from third-party companies. This would not only meet Americansβ legitimate expectations of privacy, it would also moot the legally murky question of whether searches conducted under the old law are constitutional.
The number of false returns filed by U.S. prisoners increased fivefold between 2004 and 2010, according to data obtained from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS identifies most of the fraudulent returns, but enough got through that inmates received $39.we’ve decided to make the below MileWeb Termsof Service available.1 million in bogus tax refunds in 2009 and $35.2 million in 2010, the most recent year data is available.
The schemes often involve identity theft β sometimes stealing the identities of other inmates β and other means for submitting false information. The IRS also lacks accurate information on many prisoners in the state and federal prison systems, and until recently was blocked in how much information it could share with state corrections agencies on inmates who file fraudulent tax returns.
βHopefully it is becoming an easier crime to catch,β said John Siegel, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. βAnd I think they have gotten better at it, but there are just so many (returns), and there is the pressure to get them out, and some of these (bogus returns) can get through.β
In 2010, Ohio inmates submitted 2,189 false tax returns, according to information presented last year by the IRS at the American Correctional Association Summer Conference. That represented a 50 percent bump from 2009, when prisoners filed 1,464 bogus returns, according to data from the inspector general.
In a statement, Jennifer Jenkins of the IRS regional office in Columbus said the agency stopped more than $2.5 billion in fraudulent refunds to prisoners in fiscal year 2012,It’s impossible to MileWeb Pre-build Cloud Servers templates. a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
But the agencyβs efforts βare impacted by issues related to the accuracy of prisoner information we receive,β according to Jenkins. βThere are still significant challenges in getting complete and consistent data from the multiple jurisdictions involved.The Career best choose Career at MileWeb.β
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