Chevron wins access to some Americans' email data

The oil company recently gained that right in court. The judge who ruled says the First Amendment has nothing to do with it.

By Jason Notte Jul 23, 2013 7:26AM
A sign for a Chevron gasoline station is seen through trees in La Grange, Ky.,
Ed Reinke/APAre you cool with the government having access to your online information in the name of national security? Fine. Do you feel the same way about an oil company accessing that information to protect its interests?


Sorry, but a federal court already made that decision for you. Mother Jones reports that Chevron (CVX) was granted access to nine years of email metadata -- which includes names, time stamps and detailed location data and login info, but not content -- belonging to activists, lawyers and journalists who criticized the company for drilling in Ecuador and leaving toxic sludge and leaky pipelines in its wake.


Chevron alleges it's the victim of mass extortion and is using that stance to justify asking Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT), which owns moneyNOW and Hotmail, for the data. Federal judge Lewis Kaplan granted the Microsoft subpoena last month and ruled that it didn't violate the First Amendment because Americans weren't among the people targeted. The problem is that they were.


Nate Cardozo, an attorney for The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that represents 40 of the targeted users, says at least one targeted Hotmail user is American. Of the Yahoo and Gmail users, Cardozo says "many" are American.


Advocates for the plaintiffs say Chevron is subpoenaing email records only after losing a lawsuit related to its operations in Ecuador, where Chevron was ordered to pay $9 billion in damages in 2011 and to issue a public apology. After the company refused, a judge doubled the damages to nearly $19 billion. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear Chevron's appeal.


The extortion case against Chevron's critics is set to go to trial on Oct. 15, after Kaplan refused to delay it. Cardozo says 101 email addresses are listed in the subpoenas, but EFF has found only two that are owned by actual defendants. While legal experts say that's routine, they also note that Chevron will have to prove the relevance of the addresses pulled during its "fishing expedition."


Karl Manheim, a professor at the Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles, told Mother Jones that Kaplan's use of the citizenship standard is "wrong" and offers those email users broad grounds for an appeal.


"The U.S. Constitution applies to all persons (even foreign nationals) within U.S. borders and to U.S. persons abroad," he says. "While the targets of the subpoenas are outside of U.S. jurisdiction, the subpoena itself is operative within the U.S. So the Constitution should apply." 


More on moneyNOW

85Comments
Jul 23, 2013 9:04AM
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When a group of individuals get together with common interests, and infiltrate the 3 branches of governments, that is called Racketeering. If anyone doubts that our government hasn't breached our trust, this is the smoking gun that we are being sold out, in the name of profit and no set of laws will protect us anymore.
Jul 23, 2013 9:14AM
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I guess money can buy anything in this Country after all....
Jul 23, 2013 9:28AM
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I can understand the NSA searching for terrorists on behalf of the American people, but under no stretch can I understand Chevron having any right to hubt down their detractors!!! This is what happens when courts treat corporations as if they were people and give them "rights!"

Jul 23, 2013 8:45AM
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Is Chevron even an American company? How does a Venezuelan-owned company win this type of case? 
Jul 23, 2013 10:00AM
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People wake up before they say the Bill of Rights and are Constitution are no longer valid you have a chance to make a bold decision in 2014 to block anything and everything remember what John Henry said and his words means much in is time as they do know. It starts with us to take back our country that has been sold to the highest bidder.
Jul 23, 2013 10:00AM
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Welcome to the Fascist States of America. Special interests (and especially big business) are the ones making all the decisions, and using that information to cement their control over everybody else. Why do you think that programs like Obamacare seem designed to hurt mid-sized companies especially hard...? Why is it that  EPA regulations are selectively enforced to prevent upstarting companies from being successful...? How is it that the FDA can be so absurd that it is virtually impossible to make a profit using organic processes (which by nature should be less expensive and more stable (not to mention sustainable) than "modern" farming strategies) yet can't keep a host of toxins out of the factory farms (and don't seem to care)...? The reason that organic certification is so expensive is because of moronic regulations put on it. Oh, they look good on paper, but in actual practice it makes no sense to ship freshly harvested produce 100 miles to the nearest certified packager, then another 100 miles back so that you can sell it in a farmer's market, just so you can provide your consumers with the product that they want. There are a few groups making ground in bypassing bad regulations like this, but without doubt, Big Agriculture will shut them down too if their ideas start to catch on.

Virtually every regulatory body in the country has been co-opted by the industries they purport to regulate, and as such they do not protect American consumers. Instead they protect the very people they pretend to regulate from competition and litigation, and we call it a FREE MARKET! Ha. Ha. Ha. The irony is so rich... I'm not laughing, and we really need to fix things while we still have a country to salvage.
Jul 23, 2013 8:57AM
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Chevron is an American company from the break up of Standard oil.
Jul 23, 2013 9:32AM
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What this story doesn't tell you:

It was in Ecuador not Venezuela

The judgement against Chevron has been vacated

Chevron has been cleared of all charges

The judge in Ecuador has been indicted for taking bribes

The Colorado environmental company that wrote the report has been heavily fined for falsifying thier report

Other lawyers and judges in the US are under investigation 

Jul 23, 2013 10:20AM
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Our government has been in bed with corporations for decades; nothing new here.
Jul 23, 2013 10:35AM
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The "war on terror" has given birth to the multinational corporation's best friend.
Jul 23, 2013 10:39AM
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Here's evidence of what I've suspected - all of the government online tracking can be given to mega corporations for their own use.

Target marketing and market analysis info. Follow the money!


Jul 23, 2013 8:58AM
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Well of course Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are going to kiss their ****, what do you expect?
Jul 23, 2013 8:58AM
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In a civil case, email is no different then copies of letters in your files.
Jul 23, 2013 9:28AM
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The current battle is Privacy. The next battle will be Anonymity. Imagine how quickly the crazies will disappear when real names,  photos and RIPATs ("Registered Device IP Address Tokens") become a requirement for simply accessing the internet.

Jul 23, 2013 10:29AM
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Don't you get enough profits price gouging our economy? Go to hell Chevron and all you API a**holes.
Jul 23, 2013 10:35AM
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Wow. Never thought I'd say boycott, but add me to the email list.
Jul 23, 2013 9:28AM
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You use the Internet, email, etc., you should have no expectation of privacy. Want real privacy? Use snail mail and instruct the recipient to destroy the information after they have read it. Tampering with the mail is still a federal offense.
Jul 23, 2013 11:20AM
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The warm fuzzy feeling of living in the US today, is diminishing fast. It's amazing how people permit this to continue. This govt. is out of control and needs to be reined in and shown the door. There is nothing you say, or do, or how you spend money, and what you have in the bank, that this govt. does not have access to, and feels they have the right to do whenever they so desire as well as permit who else they may choose to do so likewise.........
Jul 23, 2013 9:36AM
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It sounds like once again someone that the people elected is bought and sold by an oil company. The only thing that seems similar is their ethics--none. Possibly the folks there should get this clown out from behind his desk as soon as possible; recall/next election? Besides he probably has a job waiting for him at Chevron that pays more.

Jul 23, 2013 9:39AM
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I guess I will be using the sweep method on their emails until gas is around $1.50. I care less about them rich bastards emails. So, In closing, Take me off the email list, its suckondees@yousuck.com. 
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