The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Now, I know this whole Constitution thing has already been sent through the shredder a couple times in the past 7 years (well, and before that too, but I'm not going to go into it right now), but this is becoming ridiculous. The government has been saying for a long time that internet communications should have no expectation of privacy. This case is being fought currently in the federal courts to determine that fact for sure.
The way I see it. Anything I post on a bulletin board, blog, forum, or any other publicly read webpage is fair game. Read it all you want, thats why I put it there. If it is sent in a "private" email however, I expect it to be treated the same as any snail mail envelope. You can read who its from and who it is to, but without a court's approval, you should not be allowed to read the contents.
The government argues, however, that email, for the most part, is sent as plain text and that if they look at the full packet, they didn't really open it... Personally I believe that the headers constitute the envelope and the content is inside it, but if thats the way you want to play it, I am not waiting for a court to give the government a blank check. I have just recently downloaded and installed GNU Privacy Guard on my system. I already had Thunderbird (a great mail client, for anyone out there looking for one, a good replacement for Outlook or hopping between web mail clients). I also downloaded the engimail extension for Thunderbird. Now all of my email is signed (so no one can mess with it and anyone can tell I sent it), and if anyone wants to send me their public key (see sidebar links for more information on what these are and for my public key) I will send them only encrypted emails. Trianglman is the address, gmail is the domain.
Protect your rights. Demand that the Constitution be upheld. Don't sell your rights for a false sense of safety.
Those who would sacrifice their liberty for security deserve neither and will lose both.