The Incredible Shrinking Expectation of Online Privacy

March 15, 2012  |  Bloomberg Technology and Law Report

With the ever-expanding use of e-mail, cloud computing, and social networks, vast amounts of private data are increasingly stored online, and thereby entrusted to the custody of third parties. Unfortunately, although our digital footprint has never been more expansive, the legal framework governing the privacy of that information remains sorely outdated, incomplete, and poorly understood. This article provides an overview of the regulatory scheme and reviews recent case law affecting the ability of government and private actors to compel disclosure of e-mail or other electronic user data stored online by entities like Google, Hotmail, Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or their equivalents.

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