Opened, Web-based Emails Are “Electronic Storage” as Defined by the Stored Communications Act (Massachusetts)

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Cheng v. Romo, 2013 WL 6814691 (D. Mass. Dec. 20, 2013).

In this action, the plaintiff sued defendant for accessing the plaintiff’s web-based emails without authorization under the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The court first addressed whether the web-based emails were in a state of “electronic storage”, a threshold determination for liability under the SCA. The plaintiff argued that the emails accessed by the defendant satisfied the second prong of the statutory definition of electronic storage because they were stored by the service provider “for purposes of protection.” Siding with the plaintiff, the court found that the SCA was applicable because the web-based server continued to store copies of the emails that had been transmitted to both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s web browsers. The court further rejected the line of reasoning that would have resulted in liability based on which software was used to access the emails.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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