All e-mails are meant to be protected within the United States by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). However, this act has been heavily criticized by the people for not doing what it is supposed to every single time. If you think about the breaches and leaks that have to do with e-mails that happen on a regular basis and that link directly to the FBI, NSA or CIA, this is not illogical thinking.
Edward Snowden was the one that has revealed a lot of different cases when the government of the United States of America has been driven to illegal surveillance and this definitely includes e-mails. So, the privacy of e-mails is under question and there are a lot of different incidents that back this claim. In 2013, there was the case of Freedom Hosting.
This was a company that served the needs of everybody who wished to engage in illegal acts. For example, child pornography and hit-men that are available for hire, weapons and drugs could not be found, under the protective blanket of Freedom Hosting. For remaining anonymous, they used Tor and Bitcoin for payments.
In this case, the FBI made arrests and shut down Freedom Hosting and everyone understood that the government had had access to the anonymous hosting service and TorMail. A similar case was that of Lavabit, which was pushed toward revealing information and decided that he had better take Lavabit down. This threat apparently came from the FBI, after information and evidence that the government had gained.
Finally, another case that is worth remembering is that of David Howell Petraeus. His extra-marital affair was revealed through his use of Gmail – even without actually sending or receiving any e-mail! On the contrary, as he knew what was at stake, he decided to write down e-mails and save them as drafts. The same happened with his lover, who connected to the very same e-mail account and read the e-mails saved as drafts. Subsequently, she replied and the communication was kept alive and kicking in this manner.
Against all odds, the communication via the e-mails did not remain hidden. That caused the resignation of David Petraeus. The FBI was informed about the affair of the military officer and public official with his biographer. These are all dots that can be connected, in order to reveal the obvious truth about the fact that even the so-called anonymous e-mail services are not immune.
The most interesting thing about this is the response from the government in the US. To quote Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary to the US Department of Homeland Security: “The government can’t just wander through your emails just because they’d like to know what you’re thinking or doing. But if the government is investigating a crime, it has a lot of authority to review people’s emails.”
From these comments, you realize that there is no problem in the government snooping around and looking through your e-mails – it is just part of the crime investigation that is perfectly understandable and should not be a reason for complaining.
Even more disturbing is the fact that there is similar (if not identical) legislation in all countries that allows the governments to penetrate even anonymous e-mail services. Terrorism is the typical reason why such legislation has been created and voted in the first place and every country calls for patriotism to justify the addition of these laws. So, you had better be alarmed and keep in mind that there is no such thing as a completely, 100% protected e-mail service.