A couple of blogs have written about the June 19, 2009 order below relating to the search of a GMAIL account. The order was entered in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon by Judge Michael W. Mosman. You can read about it here and here. The Judge concludes that the government must give notice to an internet service provider when a warrant is issued to search an email account, however, the government does not have to give notice to the account hoder. The Judge summed it up as follows:
Much of the reluctance to apply traditional notions of third party disclosure to the e-mail context seems to stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the lack of privacy we all have in our e-mails. Some people seem to think that they are as private as letters, phone calls, or journal entries. The blunt fact is, they are not.
In this third party context, the Fourth Amendment notice requirement is satisfied when a valid warrant is obtained and served on the holder of the property to be seized, the ISP. In this case, the ISPs were served with the warrants to obtain the relevant e-mails. The requirements of the Fourth Amendment were satisfied.