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US vs Councilman 03-1383 Re: Addendum III(this is the end for now)Re: Addendem II Re: Addendum Re: The legal basis for Service monitoring Title 18 Section 2702.6A Re: Why TOR Operators SHOULD always sniff their exit traffic...
and finally some recent gregarious examples of usage of the exception to
title 18 section 2510
have a nice evening
a tor operator
ps the real questions here that interest myself and others of the tor
community , if All exit/entry traffic from a node is captured and stored
as part of normal IDS logging(think SHADOW) and that IDS is located on
the node itself and owed/operated by the service observer, does that
constitute electronic storage or does that constitute interception or
does that "service observation" fall within legal boundaries(all of the
ECPA statutes I have posted would seem to point to that fact) and the
case law below would seem to also back that up.)
note the defendants did prevail
*United States of America v. Bradford C. Councilman*
No. 03-1383 (1st Cir., June 29, 2004)
Affirming the court below, the First Circuit, by a 2-1 vote, holds that
defendant's alleged involvement in a scheme in which e-mails were copied
while in transit to, but before their receipt by, their intended
recipients, was not a violation of the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510
_et_ _seq_. and accordingly dismisses an indictment charging defendant
with conspiring to violate the Wiretap Act. In reaching this result, the
Court held that the Wiretap Act does not apply to the interception of
e-mails in storage. Because the e-mails at issue were in temporary
storage when intercepted, no violation of the Wiretap Act occurred.
In a vigorous dissent, Circuit Judge Lipez warned that the majority's
holding would effectively eliminate all protection for e-mail under the
Wiretap Act, as all e-mail, when in transit, is stored in either the
hard drives or RAM of the various computers involved in its delivery. As
such, e-mail recipients would be relegated to the lesser protections
provided by the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701 _et_
_seq_., which, among other things, provides certain exceptions for
"conduct authorized by the person or entity providing a wire or
electronic communications service …", and lowers the showing law
enforcement officials must make to access such stored communications.
Judge Lipez accordingly would reverse the court below, and hold that the
Wiretap Act applies to the unauthorized interception of e-mail while
such e-mail is being transmitted, whether then in storage or not.
Interloc operated an online listing service for rare and out-of print
books. To encourage the use of this service, Interloc provided e-mail
service to various book dealer customers (the "Book Dealers") for whom
it acted as an Internet Service Provider.
Defendant was responsible for supervising these ISP services. The
Indictment alleged that, at defendant's behest, Interloc employees wrote
a program which intercepted and copied all e-mails addressed to the Book
Dealers from Amazon.com. These e-mails were allegedly read by defendant
in the hopes of obtaining a competitive advantage.
These e-mails were accessed "as they were being transmitted" to their
intended recipients. Importantly, however, the parties stipulated that
at the time of their interception, "the messages existed in the random
access memory (RAM) or in hard disks, or both, within Interloc's
computer system." According to the Court, this is true of most, if not
all e-mail, which is stored temporarily on various computers throughout
most of its transmission from sender to recipient. As explained by the
An e-mail message, which is composed using an e-mail program, is
transferred from one computer to another on its way to its final
destination, the addressee. Building on the principle of store and
forward, the message is handed to a Message Transfer Agent ("MTA")
which stores the message locally. The message is routed through the
network from one MTA to another until it reaches the recipient's
mail server, which accepts it and stores it in a location accessible
to the recipient. Once the e-nail is accessible to the recipient,
final delivery has been completed. The final delivery process places
the message into storage in a message store area. Often, a separate
Mail Delivery Agent ("MDA") will be required to retrieve the e-mail
from the MTA in order to make final delivery.
This was echoed by the dissent:
All digital transmissions must be stored in RAM or on hard drives
while they are being processed by computers during transmission.
Every computer that forwards the packets that comprise an e-mail
message must store those packets in memory while it reads their
addresses, and every digital switch that makes up the
telecommunications network through which the packets travel between
computers must also store the packets while they are being routed
across the network.
The defendant moved to dismiss the Indictment on the grounds that the
Wiretap Act does not protect e-mail when it is in storage. Both the
District Court and First Circuit agreed, holding that the Act only
prohibits the interception of e-mail while in transit - it does not
apply to e-mail that is in storage. Because defendant was not indicted
under the Stored Communications Act 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701 _et_ _seq_., the
dismissal of the Wiretap Act claims resulted in the dismissal of all
claims against him.
In reaching the result, the Court relied upon the Act's then distinction
between "wired communications" and "electronic communications." The
Wiretap Act makes it a crime to "intercept" a "wire" or "electronic"
communication 18 U.S.C. §2511(1)(a). However, while the definition of
"wired communication" in the Act included communications in "electronic
storage," the definition of "electronic communications" did not. Thus,
the Act defined "wired communications" as:
any aural transfer made in whole or part through the use of
facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of
wire, cable or other like connection between the point of origin and
the point of reception furnished or operated by any person engaged
in providing or operating such facilities … _and such term includes
any electronic storage of such communication_. 18 U.S.C. 2510(1)
The Act defined "electronic communication" as "any transfer of signs,
signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature
transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic,
photoelectronic or photooptical system." 18 U.S.C. §2510(12).
Because of this distinction, the First Circuit held that the Act did not
apply to "electronic communications" while they were in storage, and
accordingly, affirmed the dismissal of the indictment against defendant.
The Court found support for its holding in both _Steve Jackson Games
Inc. v. U.S. Secret Service_, 36 F.3d 457 (5th Cir. 1994), which held
that the Wiretap Act did not apply to the seizure of sent but
unretrieved e-mail that was stored on a computer's hard drive, and
_Konop v. Hawaiian Airlines Inc._, 302 F.3d 868 (9th Cir. 2002) _cert_.
_den'd_. 537 U.S. 1193 (2003) which held that "for a web site such as
Konop's to be 'intercepted' in violation of the Wiretap Act, it must be
acquired during transmission, not while in electronic storage."
While the Court recognized that "it may well be that the protections of
the Wiretap Act have been eviscerated as technology advances," it
nonetheless felt constrained by the language of the statute to reach
Circuit Judge Lipez strongly disagreed. He too noted that the Court's
decision would leave e-mail effectively unprotected by the Wiretap Act,
as all e-mail, while in transit, is stored on the various machines
involved in its delivery. Judge Lipez believes that Congress did not
intend such a result. Accordingly, he would hold that the Act applied to
e-mail intercepted during its transmission, whether then in temporary
storage or not.