View Full Version : Can emails be retrieved?

12-11-2008, 11:18 AM

Hi to you all.

Hope I have posted in the correct forum and can someone settle a slight dispute.

My question is can a person's emails be retrieved from the server i.e. does the server or service provider keep all past emails and can they be accessed and used as evidence such as a Private Investigator or The Police can request them from the server?

I believe this is the case but the wife believes otherwise.

12-11-2008, 11:38 AM
I have been told by my carrier that emails, once they have been deleted from your end are not available. Apparently, the serve scrambles to text and sends it into cyberville to float in perpetuity.

12-11-2008, 11:49 AM
Every email service is different. There isn't a standard operating procedure. Someone like Google will keep their for months, while Yahoo might delete them permanently when you do. If an LEO needs access, I don't see why they couldn't get your emails with a court order. However, a PI will never be able to.

12-11-2008, 12:10 PM
AOL deletes theirs... I had the same issue with needing them for court.

12-11-2008, 12:29 PM
It depends on the email provider, or the service you use, like Yahoo mail, GMail or a client based e-mail like Outlook that stores a copy of the email locally. It also depends on what protocols the email provider uses, and on the email provider's policy on deleting past backups.

Most email providers such as ISPs (AOL, Cox Cable, Roadrunner)who provide POP3 access to mailbox do not keep mail in the mailbox after it was downloaded (unless the email client is set to leave a copy on the server),

Remember that when you use e-mail it is recorded in a few places. The machine you wrote the e-mail on may retain a copy of the data even after you have sent it, or even deleted it if you using a client based e-mail like outlook or outlook express. It is also on the persons computer it was sent too, and on all the computers it was routed through on the trip between them. Most e-mails go through more than 6 or 7 computers before it gets from one computer to the person it was sent too.

If you use a web based e-mail client like GMail or Yahoo mail, the e-mails only reside on the web server of the company that provides the service and they all have different policies on retention. AOL for example only keeps e-mails for 30 days. While some only keep it for a few days. It is all up to the provider.

There may be places on a computer that the data that was typed may be stored, but that depends on a lot of things like OS, E-mail client, amount of computer use and other things.

Then you now have to add in cellular services to this since some people send their e-mails using cellular services.

So in answer to your questions the answer is maybe. LOL It all depends on a lot of things and what for. PI's by the way can not get past e-mails, that takes a search warrant from law enforcement. Unless they get them from someone voluntarily and even then, most ISP's will not give them out without a court order.

12-11-2008, 12:29 PM
Personal e-mails are protected.

E-mails you send form work, not so much. Those belong to your employer and can be turned over by them without a warrant.

http://w2.eff.org/legal/cases/warshak_v_usa/ is a pretty recent case decision on warrantless access to e-mails.

12-11-2008, 03:33 PM
the other thing is an investigator can notify a provider of an ongoing investigaton and ask that the server save the files pending a court order/warrant to turn them over.....