EFF Fighting For Whistleblower's Privacy Rights, Following Sham Lawsuit

from the 4th-amendment,-where-are-you? dept

The EFF is helping out in a case to look at whether or not you have an expectation of privacy in your email. The details of the case itself are really quite stunning, so I'll just repeat the EFF's summary:
The whistleblower, Charles Rehberg, uncovered systematic mismanagement of funds at a Georgia public hospital. He alerted local politicians and others to the issue through a series of faxes. A local prosecutor in Dougherty County, Ken Hodges, conspired with the hospital and used a sham grand jury subpoena to obtain Mr. Rehberg's personal email communications. The prosecutor then provided that information to private investigators for the hospital and indicted Mr. Rehberg for a burglary and assault that never actually occurred. All the criminal charges against Mr. Rehberg were eventually dismissed. Hodges is currently running for Attorney General of Georgia in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Rehberg filed a civil suit against the prosecutors and their investigator for their misconduct, but the appeals court erroneously ruled that he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his private email.
Scary stuff. And it gets worse, too, as apparently the court gave "immunity to county prosecutors and their investigators for manipulating and fabricating "evidence" and defaming Mr. Rehberg as a felon in comments to the press."

This seems like a massive abuse of power to punish a whistleblower, using emails obtained via questionable means. Bad news all around.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Megore, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 2:27am

    Thats just messed up.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:04am

    even more scary, why has that prosecutor not been disbarred?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:57am

    "the court gave "immunity to county prosecutors and their investigators for manipulating and fabricating "evidence" and defaming Mr. Rehberg as a felon in comments to the press." "

    So much for defamation laws being used to protect against actual defamation. Instead, the laws are only designed to protect the guilty.

     

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    Del Boy, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 5:05am

    Shocking

    'as apparently the court gave "immunity to county prosecutors and their investigators for manipulating and fabricating "evidence" and defaming Mr. Rehberg as a felon in comments to the press'

    How can this be legal?.

     

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      Michael, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 5:09am

      Re: Shocking

      Apparently it was not legal - that's why the court had to give them immunity. It's perfectly legal for a court to grant immunity for anything - although I would question their motives on this one.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 5:14am

        Re: Re: Shocking

        If you're guilty of a crime, the law is out to protect you. If you're innocent, watch out, the law is not on your side.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 5:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Shocking

          (to continue)

          BTW, it's amazing how the law grants immunity for something as harmful as intentionally fraudulent behavior but it doesn't grant immunity for something as harmless as (intentional or unintentional) intellectual property infringement.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 6:11am

    A prosecutor's misconduct goes unpunished?
    No surprise.
    Lawyers protect their own.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 6:49am

    All the more reason for the existence of wikileaks.

     

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    1984, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Privacy?

    You have no more privacy. They tap your phones, read your emails, track your internet usage, track what you watch on tv, track what you buy, where you go.

    I am coming along nicely. Pretty soon I will have you all under the same rules under the guise of trade agreements. We WILL put little chips implanted in you so I can know your every move and thought. Ill keep distracting you with little slut hottie car wrecks, and sports figures that cant keep it in their pants, and all the while I will use my influence to erode away at that pesky little thing you call freedom that keeps me and my corporate buddies from taking all of the wealth and power.

    We WILL win. Wanna know why?

    Baaaa Baaaa Baaaa All the little sheeples are too afraid. Big bad ass Americans... pussies!

    You are losing and don't even know it.

    You deserve what you let happen to you.

     

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    Pixelation, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 8:07am

    Crook?

    From reading the article it appears Ken Hodges is is not the type of man you would want to elect.
    Ken Hodges appears to have gotten away with questionable, if not illegal, activity.
    If the article is accurate, Ken Hodges is not trust worthy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Squeaky Clean Wikipedia page

    Ken Hodges Wikipedia page ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Hodges ) curiously shows no mention of this, however the discussion page has this interesting tidbit:

    I have removed obvious partisan attacks and the details of alleged ethical violations....Regarding the inclusion or exclusion of Hodges' alleged ethical violations, I advise we keep them out of this article. Not only do they overwhelm the article, but it looks like all the charges have been dismissed.

     

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      Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 9:29am

      Re: Squeaky Clean Wikipedia page

      One can hope the EFF's efforts and headlines here will remedy that "clean" problem fairly quickly.

       

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    snowburn14, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 9:41am

    I hate to say it...

    ...but if he was using a company computer and/or email address, then there likely would be no (legal) expectation of privacy. Almost every company I've ever worked for - and I suspect this hospital as well - stipulates that the use of their computers and email systems is for business use only, and your actions may be monitored. Even if it was a private email address, if they can establish that he accessed that email from a computer at work, they might have the law on their side (and not just corrupt lawyers/judges). It sucks, but the corporations we work for (which, sadly, most hospitals are these days) have far more control over us than most people realize, and certainly more than anyone but the shareholders would be comfortable with.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Well, that's the law. If you don't like the law then become a member of the political class and change it. Otherwise, don't speak ill of the law. It's a law for a reason. Even bad laws must be respected.

    Everybody knows that!

     

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    knowit, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 10:45am

    It was his personal email

    i read the complaint at EFF, it was the man's personal email account. You should read it--unbelievable. 60 Minutes and 20/20, where are you on this???

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    The 4th amendment died years ago.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 11:32pm

    Revolution is required...

     

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    cackus, Apr 12th, 2010 @ 7:40pm

    DMCA smackdown

    The email was "encoded" in ASCII Ethernet and IP(which may send packets out of order) This is a violation of the DMCA which forbids the breaking of encryption (no mater how insignificant the technical means of decryption) The DMCA would award damages without the ability of the accused to defend themselves in any meaningful way. Just the Accusation of a violation of the DMCA can lead to damages being awarded.

    I would love to see the DMCA used in this way. The DMCA has been used to violate the constitutional rights of many under far flimsier circumstances.

     

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