• A South Carolina court of appeals has held that a defendant’s unauthorized access of e-mails on a Yahoo! account server violated the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The case involved a husband who sued his wife and his wife’s daughter-in-law after the daughter-in-law accessed his Yahoo! e-mail account and gave the e-mails to his wife in connection with their divorce proceedings. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, ruling that the husband was not an “electronic communications service” covered by the SCA. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, stating that the trial court “framed the issue incorrectly” and should have addressed Yahoo!'s status in storing copies of the e-mails on its computers rather than the husband’s status in storing e-mails on his personal computer. The appeals court held that Yahoo! was acting as an electronic communications service, because the husband’s account was active and could send and receive e-mails. The appellate court added that the “post-transmission” state of the e-mails did not affect their coverage under the SCA, and rejected the defendants’ attempt to create a distinction between opened and unopened e-mails. The court of appeals also, however, affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the wife, ruling that the daughter-in-law was the only proper defendant, because she was the person who accessed plaintiff’s Yahoo! account. Jennings v. Jennings, No. 4711.
  • Saudi Arabia has backed off a threatened ban of BlackBerry Messenger services after reaching an agreement with the Canadian manufacturer of the device, Research In Motion (RIM). Although no reason was given for the sudden breakthrough with Saudi Arabia, analysts believe that RIM likely agreed to hand over BlackBerry codes that will permit Saudi regulators and intelligence agents to monitor messaging services. This delays a potential problem in the biggest Middle Eastern market for BlackBerrys. But the company faces new challenges as it tries to reconcile its security commitment to corporate and individual clients with demands from countries, such as India, to monitor BlackBerry traffic. These governments are concerned that encrypted e-mail and messaging services could be exploited by terrorists and other groups posing national security threats. During the week of August 2, 2010, Saudi regulators had ordered the kingdom's three telecom companies—Saudi Telecom, Mobily, and Zain Saudi Arabia—“to immediately block the BlackBerry services to businesses and individuals alike” or face a reported $1.3 million fine. India has set an August 31, 2010 deadline for RIM to satisfy its security concerns or risk being banned. Other countries such as Indonesia, Turkey, and Algeria have also voiced concerns about the perceived security risks with BlackBerry. Russia and China have allowed BlackBerry to operate only after long discussions.