There are various reasons why people may delete their emails. It could be a simple reason like saving space or more serious factors such as destroying evidence. It is to note that destroying evidence is considered a criminal offence. Deleting emails that could be used as evidence is likely to be treated in the same manner. It often brings up the question if law enforcement agencies like the FBI can recover deleted emails. To answer that, here are some important things to understand.
Using a warrant or subpoena issued by a judge – Law enforcement agencies like the FBI have the option to present their case before a judge. If the judge feels that there is good reason to recover the deleted emails, they can issue a warrant or subpoena. This can then be used by the FBI to recover deleted emails. The FBI can approach the respective email service provider to recover the deleted emails.
For example, the FBI can approach Google if the concerned individual has deleted emails on their Gmail account. Deleted emails are there in the Bin for 30 days before they are permanently deleted. Google can use their Admin control to restore the deleted emails for an additional 25 days. Post that, Google permanently deletes such emails from their servers.
However, even when emails are permanently deleted, the FBI can still recover them. They may not have access to Google servers. But they can access the computer or device that was used to store those emails. The FBI can use advanced forensic tools in order to recover permanently deleted emails. Until and unless the data is completely overwritten, there is always a good chance that the deleted emails can be recovered. The FBI can also access cloud storage services to recover deleted emails and data.
Accessing the sender’s or receiver’s email account or device – Instead of going after the individual who has deleted their emails, the FBI can approach the sender or receiver of the emails. These could be from unknown email accounts, but the data could still be recovered. Such data can be used to resolve complex cases and act against organized crime.
As is evident from above, deleting emails does not guarantee that it cannot be recovered. One can try to use advanced encryption tools to encrypt email data and then delete it in that format. While this method can make email recovery quite challenging, it cannot be termed as an impossible task. Even if not all data is recovered, some parts of it can help the FBI to identify the culprits and initiate further action.