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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    2

    Default How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: ny

    hi, if the police are granted access to a suspects email account, gmail specifically, how far back are emails still available on Gmail servers?
    For instance, if you delete an email then empty the trashfolder, supposedly the messages are still on the gmail servers for some period of time, and even after that can they still be retrieved?
    Anyone have any experience there?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Lake Chapala
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    2,870

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Only gmail would know this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    47.606 N 122.332 W in body, still at 90 S in my mind.
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    1,348

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Theoretically, all the way back to the inception of your account. That's why you text and email like it can be subpoenaed.

    Just remember, two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1,061

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Rather obviously, you'd have to ask the good folks at Google.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    275

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Not the question but I was working for a manufacturing company in the 1980s. I was very junior management at the time and was nagging more senior management about routine destruction of legally old documents, and very senior management told me to drop it, that they had the space and I was talking about an unnecessary expense.

    Of course, we had an employee who smoked 2 packs a day for his entire life die of lung cancer. His estate blamed us for a dirty working environment. We could show that we followed all OSHA rules (per OSHA inspections) and industry standards prior to OSHA. Other then a WC claim, we were gold. HOWEVER, the estate instead sued the entire chemical industry of the US, who in turn filed legal discovery against us, asking for basically every piece of paper we had going back to the Big Bang. They had two full time temps doing nothing but photocopying documents for 15 months. I had mandatory discovery meetings I had to attend for that time which most of the time meant sitting in a room and not answering questions because they had no questions. What questions they did ask were stupid, like why do you have AP files from Mar 1949 and May 1949 but not Apr 1949? Answer, no idea seeing how I was born in 1953 and did not become an employee until 1978. The lawyers could not care less about the questions or the answers or the copies. They were just churning fees and running the clock out. The estate eventually decided there was no big payday, and settled out of court for a small payday. We implemented a formal document destruction policy the day after we no longer under court order to protect all documents.

    I am not Google but Google's policy should be to destroy all records the day after they are no longer legally required to keep them. Records are not your friend. Every other company should have exactly the same policy. HOWEVER, once they receive a court order all records, including old records, just became legally protected and Google is required to either turn over the records or fight the order in court. And they have no reason to fight the order in court. They do not have a dog in the OP's fight.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1,061

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Quote Quoting DAWW
    View Post
    I am not Google but Google's policy should be to destroy all records the day after they are no longer legally required to keep them. Records are not your friend. Every other company should have exactly the same policy. HOWEVER, once they receive a court order all records, including old records, just became legally protected and Google is required to either turn over the records or fight the order in court. And they have no reason to fight the order in court. They do not have a dog in the OP's fight.
    So...basically the day after any e-mail is sent or received, it should be permanently deleted?! There is, after all, no legal requirement in play with respect to a service such as gmail.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    2,651

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Quote Quoting pg1067
    View Post
    So...basically the day after any e-mail is sent or received, it should be permanently deleted?! There is, after all, no legal requirement in play with respect to a service such as gmail.
    There are email services that do exactly that or at least there used to be.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    275

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    I did not say that. I said the day after there was no longer a legal reason to keep it, the employer should destroy the documents. I should have said legal or business reason to keep it but I did not say anything the day after the email was sent to delete it. I do not know what legal restrictions (if any) Google is required to keep email, and I do not know how long their business model says to keep it. I also very clearly said that they need to have a formal policy and FOLLOW THE POLICY. If any employer selectively kills documents, it looks like they are playing games. I can see if there is no legal reason (and there might be) to keep it longer, it might be hypothetically possible to have a "we will destroy all emails after xxx days" policy, then follow the policy. For example, under federal law most Accounts Payable records are two-three years plus filing, say three-four years. A policy that routinely destroys such records in accordance to the legal policy would be advised. But each class of records must be examined separately for legal and business requirements and explicitly spelled out in the policy. What is true for say Accounts Payable records is very likely not true for patent information. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. What is true is that records generally not your friend, and if you have no legal or business reason to keep the records, then you likely should not. And that employers should never destroy records except in compliance with their written policy. I have worked for employers whose record destruction policy was hundreds of pages long, required formal written approval to destroy records in accordance with the policy and had a records destruction compliance officer to monitor the whole thing. Often not a full time position, just a short straw type of assignment.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18,826

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    And your point is irrelevant. We're not talking about employers retaining employee records, we're talking about gmail.
    With a court-ordered search warrant, anything you ever sent or received via the google servers is available.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    2,651

    Default Re: How Far Back Can Gmail Retrieve Messages if Served with Warrant

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    And your point is irrelevant. We're not talking about employers retaining employee records, we're talking about gmail.
    With a court-ordered search warrant, anything you ever sent or received via the google servers is available.
    That is assuming that they store every email forever. There is no legal requirement for them to do so. Sooner or later they are going to purge old emails unless they can figure out how to make a buck off them.

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