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No privacy for e-mail: US court

July 01, 2004 20:18 IST

A US appeals court has ruled that a company that provides e-mail service has the right to copy and read any message bound for its customers.

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The US Court of Appeals in Massachusetts said that because e-mail
is stored, even momentarily, in computers before it is routed to its recipients, it is not subject to laws that apply to eavesdropping of telephone calls, which are continuously in transit.
As a result, companies or employers that own the computers are free to intercept messages before they are received by customers, it said.

Peter B Swire, an Ohio State University Law Professor  who was a privacy advisor in the Clinton administration, said
that the ruling means that an e-mail provider "can intercept all your e-mail with impunity, and can read them and use them  for his own business purposes."

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