Civil Subpoenas for ISP Email Accounts
A basic tenet of electronic discovery courses is that providers of online email and document accounts are not required (or permitted) to produce data in response to subpoena in civil actions. The law that prevents ISPs from doing so is the Stored Communications Act, 28 U.S.C. 2701-2712. The data can only be disclosed with the consent of the account holder. There are exceptions for grand jury subpoenas, and certain kinds of government subpoenas. Some courts have held the SCA also prevents the disclosure of customer records (email addresses, account access times, etc.) as opposed to just the content of the messages or documents.