Old Emails Are Protected
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Old Emails Are Protected

An individual sued a defendant for unlawfully accessing messages in his web-based e-mail account in violation of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act and the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA). The court gave a new spin to an old law holding emails that have been opened and then left on the servers of an online web email service are deemed as being stored for the purposes of backup protection. This means they are in protected “electronic storage” and entitled to SCA privacy protections. The court further found the plaintiff pled a plausible claim for consequential damages under the state Computer Crimes Act. Experts agree this interpretation has broader implications because it also applies to access by law enforcement requiring a warrant before seizing the email content.

Hately v Watts