When police came to your door with a warrant for your arrest, the amount of information they had on you may have shocked you. They seemed to know your every move, your routine, and even the contents of your private phone calls and electronic communications.
As with most advancements in society, the law is slow to catch up with technology. Efforts to protect your right to privacy have met with governmental resistance, and law enforcement agencies are quick to exploit those loopholes.
Not such a private matter
In many ways, you may allow police access to your private life without realizing it. Through social media, you make public your likes and dislikes, your friends, and your activities with posts, pictures and videos. Unless you use privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter and other accounts and check them frequently, you may be revealing more than you intend to people beyond your circle of friends. Even if that information does not incriminate you, law enforcement may be able to use it against you anyway.
Unfortunately, even if your settings are private, some agencies use software to surveil social networks or set up fake accounts allowing them to access the private side of your feed. Otherwise, they would need a warrant to see what you have blocked from public view. However, some of your digital presence does not require a warrant for police to gain access, including the following:
- Your call history is fair game because the courts consider it business records, not private records.
- Privacy laws do not protect emails, photos and other documents older than 180 days that you store in the cloud.
- Police can obtain any text messages that your service provider stores beyond 180 days.
- Investigators don't need a warrant to gain the tower dump that uses your cell phone's GPS to reveal the history of the times and locations where you travel with your cell phone.
Using tower dumps and IP address histories, police can place you in the area of a crime or with someone who has criminal associations. It is more common these days for investigators to string together circumstantial evidence from the digital information they gather and build a convincing case. This is why having a strong defense strategy is crucial when facing any criminal charges. While friends and family may offer reasonable advice, your best advantage is to seek the counsel of an experienced Pennsylvania legal professional.