Does the U.S. government read your email? It's a simple question, but apparently there's no simple answer. And the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are reluctant to say anything on the topic.
In March, the American Civil Liberties Union caused a nationwide stir when the advocacy group released the results of its year-long investigation into law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data. After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information. The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months. In most cases, law enforcement obtains the data without applying for a search warrant; generally, subpoenas are issued instead, which require law enforcement to meet a lower legal standard.