If you store your emails for over 180 days, the FBI says it can legally monitor them without a warrant.
It took a Freedom of Information Act inquiry to find this out.
This defies a ruling made in 2010 by a federal appeals court.
An FBI “Operations Guide” makes exemptions for any email that stored by a service provider for more than 180 days. It says:
“[I]f the contents of an unopened message are kept beyond six months or stored on behalf of the customer after the e-mail has been received or opened, it should be treated the same as a business record in the hands of a third party, such as an accountant or attorney. In that case, the government may subpoena the records from the third party without running afoul of either the Fourth or Fifth Amendment.”
G-mail is a third party.
Outlook isn’t. The FBI has to get a warrant to look at Outlook emails.
I use Outlook. I don’t use G-mail. I never have. Why not? Because of exactly this reason. I did not want a third party to store my emails.
In a statement, the FBI insisted its methods are constitutional: “In all investigations, the FBI obtains evidence in accordance with the laws and Constitution of the United States, and consistent with Attorney General guidelines.”