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.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: eff

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “EFF Fighting For Whistleblower's Privacy Rights, Following Sham Lawsuit”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

“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.

1984 says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

snowburn14 says:

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.

cackus says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...