Digital Access in Criminal Defense Cases

As technology continues to improve and develop at its current unprecedented rate, it comes as no surprise that some of the biggest issues in matters of evidence deal with accessibility to digital information. Today, almost all of one’s information can be found in some form of digital media. This is true whether it’s communication via phone, text or email; social media postings; or even information intended to be kept private that’s stored in third-party apps.

There is no doubt that laws struggle to keep up with technological advancements. The failure of laws to readily adapt to these changes continues to pose threats to individual privacy while increasing the number of violations to an individual’s rights under the Bill of Rights.

Unfettered Warrants

One of the ways that prosecutors and police get their hands on digital information is through broad, often vague search warrants. These warrants contain broad language that would almost seemingly force defendants to turn over unnecessary amounts of irrelevant evidence if he or she is without the help of experienced defense counsel. Some examples of broad language includes:

  • “All information contained in the cellular phone”
  • “All emails sent or received by the email account”
  • “All incoming and outgoing text messages and contents therein”

Again, the problem with this type of language is that its broad scope provides no guidelines as to the reviewable evidence while granting an officer gathering the evidence greater freedom to determine the relevance of evidence. Warrants which include similar language essentially grant officers the authority to search throughout and select whatever they see fit.

Wiretapping and Backdoor Access to Phones

One of the more controversial elements of The Patriot Act was the expansion of power granted to the government for purposes of wiretaps. Although authorities have used wiretaps for years now, the use of this controversial practice has increased. This includes expanding the practice to that of mobile and smartphones.

As so much information makes its way onto our smartphones, privacy issues continue to arise. Recently, a very public debate occurred between technology innovators Apple and the FBI. The debate, which spilled over from Apple’s unwillingness to provide the FBI with a “backdoor” access to its phones and cloud-based services. Apple’s position was rooted in the belief of individual privacy.

Apple’s stance plays an important role as it seeks to limit access to private information. More importantly, it helps provide a stance that will help protect the unfettered access authorities have when accessing digital information during criminal defense cases. If technology companies allow backdoor access to authorities, the access to evidence and information becomes almost unchecked, leading to a further erosion of both criminal and civil rights.

Call 856-227-2434 today for a free consultation.

Your rights should remain preserved even if you are charged with a crime. Advancements in technology have helped erode some of the basic criminal, evidentiary, and civil rights as laws have struggled to keep up. You should not be prejudiced as a result. Call John C. Iannelli today at 856-227-2434 to schedule a free consultation and to learn how your rights can be preserved by limiting digital access in a criminal case.

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