For years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been seeking an administrative agency exception that would enable it to use a subpoena to access email content stored remotely by third parties. But under current legal precedent, per a 2010 Sixth Circuit decision, United States v. Warshak, it has been precedent that this material should only be accessible with a search warrant.
The SEC continues to seek expanded authority, and they question the application of this warrant requirement to civil agencies. In February, they issued a subpoena to Yahoo to access a user’s email, where the account was owned by a defendant in a securities fraud case. Yahoo has rightly challenged this action, and the case, Securities and Exchange Commission v. North Star Finance LLC, represents a landmark dispute regarding the government efforts to obtain email content in a civil case with just a subpoena to an email service provider.
Unlike a warrant based upon pro ...