Even if incarceration is a remote possibility, there is always the very real danger of being arrested and interrogated for petty crimes, just because you confessed to it in a private email -- which perhaps wouldn't even be accepted as evidence. Disruption of people's lives can be subtle but deep.
Also, with near-infinite storage data can be collected now and used many decades in the future. Just to think that a government has the power to collect and store everything that you do online should be enough to scare anyone.
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