A&A: Surveillance of email, IP address, and subpoenas

Q: I understand the local police can subpoena your email and IP address without a judge. Is there anyway to know if the police are doing this to a person? Can a person find this out?

A: Because public records laws tend to exempt records related to law enforcement investigations, it could be difficult to determine whether a law enforcement entity has sought or obtained records from your communications providers, especially if the agency has a court order requiring the communications provider not to disclose the fact of the information production.

You might find the EFF’s Surveillance Self Defense site of some interest in learning about these issues. The section called “Information Stored by Third Parties” has some information relevant to your specific question ().

Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to First Amendment Coalition hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.