Warrants used to do the trick.
Now a simple phone call to any one of several supersized tech companies often suffices.
Today’s blog post spotlights subject matter central to criminal law probes that has spelled a top-tier and often controversial topic for decades, if not centuries.
The focus: authorities’ securing of incriminating evidence against individuals that can subsequently be used to convict them of crimes.
The search for “you did it and we’ve now got proof” information and linked data has always preoccupied criminal investigators and law enforcers.
The same sharp scrutiny attaches for judges obliged to ensure that evidence-securing actions are carried out lawfully. And it is a core aim of proven criminal defense attorneys to ensure that evidence against a client has been legally secured and not obtained through unlawful actions and processes.
Historically, and in most instances, an investigatory search mandates compliance with constitutional requirements to proceed only if so-called “probable cause” to suspect criminal wrongdoing exists and only after securing a warrant.
As inferred in today’s post headline, that long-held status quo expectation has arguably been turned upside down by evolving and progressively more refined online tech developments.
When law enforcers need info, where do they turn?
It is a certainty that every reader of this blog forum has a hefty online presence (after all, every individual reading this article is doing so via the Internet).
That online immersion opens up countless opportunities for immersion and engagement on social media sites and other data-rich platforms.
And not just for those linking up following password and other data entries. Indeed, there is a huge third-party shadow audience that has an overriding interest in what legions of online users have recently done and are currently saying and thinking, uploading and planning for the future.
That group of over-your-shoulder info gatherers is the broad-based and diverse law enforcement community spanning the country. Criminal investigators are ever-hungry for more personal information. And they reportedly score reams of it routinely by merely requesting personal user info from companies ranging from Apple, Google and Microsoft to Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, Airbnb and myriad phone service providers.
How evolving tech is influencing criminal probes
A recent in-depth national article notes that criminal investigators focused on obtaining personal information about individuals are “increasingly turning to the vast digital ponds of personal data created by Big Tech companies.”
Their motivation to do so is eminently clear. One high-tier police detective states that the amount of data easily collectible from online sources is “insane.”
And it also raises fundamental issues surrounding privacy rights, tech companies readily caving in on authoritative requests for data, warrantless searches and other concerns.
Law enforcement requests to data companies for user data have reportedly more than tripled within the past handful of years.
This important criminal law topic will be further addressed in a future blog post.