A Judge ruled it was unreasonable to ask Apple “a service provider to execute a search warrant could pose problems, as non-government employees, untrained in the details of criminal investigation, likely lack the requisite skills and expertise to determine whether a document is relevant to the investigation” according to a report in Computerworld.  On August 7, 2014 Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts (US District Court, District of Columbia) in the case of In the Matter of the Search of Information Associated with [REDACTED]@mac.com that is Stored at the Premises Controlled by Apple, Inc. reversed an earlier decision by a Magistrate Judge which “refused to allow a two-step procedure whereby law enforcement is provided all emails relating to a target account, and is then allowed to examine the emails at a separate location to identify evidence.”

Judge Robert’s ruled “that providing law enforcement with access to an entire email account in an investigation did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of property” which was in line with the July 18, 2014 New York court ruling which ordered Google to produce all content for xxxxxx@gmail.com.

Of course the 1986 Stored Communications Act applies to civil and criminal cases, but in the Google and Apple cases in New York and the District of Columbia the criminal search warrants were issued under Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.