To participate fully in society and to take advantage of its many services, we are asked to surrender personal, identifying information to third parties. The disclosures range from telephone and bank records to e-mail and Internet accounts. Whether the newest type of personal information — Internet account data — can be uncovered by law enforcement depends on the recognition of the right to informational privacy.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that information voluntarily disclosed to third parties is not protected (third-party doctrine)[FOOTNOTE 1] and the federal courts have found no right to privacy in Internet subscriber information.[FOOTNOTE 2] Congress has addressed the situation in a very limited way through enactment of several statutes circumscribing access to personal data.[FOOTNOTE 3]