Criminal Prosecutors can Obtain Evidence of Cyber Crime From Internet Service Providers

At the Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Office, Computer Crimes Prosecutors are trained in obtaining evidence from internet service providers such as AOL and e-mail providers such as Yahoo and Gmail. The Patriot Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allow law enforcement to obtain copies of e-mails that are stored on an e-mail provider’s servers with a court order depending on how long they are stored there.

On the other hand, if e-mails are downloaded to an e-mail client like Outlook or Apple mail and
then deleted from AOL or Gmail’s servers, law enforcement cannot access those files without a search warrant. A search warrant cannot be obtained unless the State Attorney has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. What is more, a search warrant cannot be executed without the suspect knowing about it immediately. On the other hand, a court order on an internet service provider can be executed without telling the suspect.

Accordingly, people who use an e-mail client, such as Apple Mail or Outlook, on their computer have greater protection to their privacy than people that allow their data to be stored in the cloud. However, be careful about how you configure your e-mail client. If you have an Imap configuration, although e-mails are brought down to your e-mail client, they are also stored in the cloud. It is fair to say that from a privacy standpoint, this is the worst possible set up as the e-mails are kept in the most places possible any one of which could be subject to search and seizure under a variety of standards.

If you are subject to a search of your computers, immediately contact a qualified Florida Criminal Defense Attorney