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IRS doesn't believe in warrants for e-mail: CNET Update

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CNET Update: IRS doesn't believe in warrants for e-mail

2:48 /

Documents suggest IRS lawyers don't think a search warrant is needed for obtaining e-mail, burglars steal user data from video service Vudu, and T-Mobile touts trade-in program before its iPhone 5 launch.

It's time to get worked up over search warrants. I'm Bridget Carey, and this is your CNET Update. The video service Voodoo has hacked the old fashion way. Its hard drives were stolen from the office after breaking. And the hard drives contained customer names, e-mail and postal addresses, phone numbers and birthdates and the last four digits of some credit cards. Voodoo has reset all passwords and sent out a warning e-mail to users. The company says, passwords were encrypted, but if you ever get a notification about your information being stolen from a website or service, don't just shrug it off. Change your password on any site that also uses the same sign-in information. Thieves will use your password and e-mail combo on dozens of sites to see if it unlocks access to anything else. As tax day approaches, here's some comforting news from my fellow Americans. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't believe and needs a search warrant before reading your e-mail. Internal IRS document state that Americans enjoy generally no privacy in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter Direct Messages and similar online communications. So, the IRS can just go out to these documents without going to a judge for search warrant. Of course, that goes against what many lawmakers have argued that your e-mail is protected by the same court amended privacy as your hard drive or physical letter that's in your desk. A federal appeals court in 2010, ruled that Americans do have the expectations of privacy in e-mail and it might make you feel better to know that e-mail providers like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Facebook do expect warrants for e-mail access. These IRS guidelines were in a handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, and that group is speaking out against this guideline asking the IRS to amend its policies. T Mobile will be selling the iPhone on Friday and it's running a promotion to learn new customers in with the trade-in program bringing an iPhone 4 or 4s and customers get an iPhone 5 without any downpayment. Normally, T Mobile charges $100 to walk out with the iPhone 5 and then customers pay off the rest of the phone in monthly installments. If the trade is worth more than $100, T Mobile could even lower the monthly payments from say, $20 a month to $15 a month. It's all part of T Mobile's new system where you don't sign up for a 2-year contract. You just have to pay off the cost of the phone over two years. And you can leave T Mobile anytime just as long as you paid off that phone. Of course, if you have the time and energy to sell it on a site like e-bay, you'll get more money for used iPhone then you would with the trade-in program. That-- your tech news update. You can find more details on our show blog cnet.com/update. From our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey.
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