Bunnell v. MPAA

In Bunnell v. Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) EFF filed a brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that federal wiretapping law protects emails from unauthorized interception while they are temporarily stored on the email servers that transmit them. This case was brought against the MPAA by the owners and operators of TorrentSpy a search engine that let Internet users locate files on the BitTorrent peer-to-peer network. After a business dispute one of TorrentSpy's independent contractors hacked into the company email server and configured it to copy and forward all incoming and outgoing email to his personal account and then sold the information to the MPAA. However the federal district court ruled that because the emails were stored in the mail server for several milliseconds during transmission they were not technically "intercepted" under the federal Wiretap Act. In its amicus brief EFF argues that this dangerous ruling is incorrect as a matter of law and must be overturned in order to prevent the government from engaging in similar surveillance without a court order.

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