Law Enforcement Uses Your Cellphone To Spy On You
People are generally surprised at the amount of information law enforcement has gathered about them. With the scandals regarding Facebook and Google’s Data policies, it is no secret how ubiquitous law enforcement surveillance is in our daily lives. However, a large number of people get to find that out the hard way. Perhaps the only way to protect yourself from law enforcement’s prying eyes is to go live in the woods however any secrets in the past that we may have thought buried may come back to haunt us because technology has conquered all our secrets in this day and age. Perhaps the most significant gift that modern technology has bestowed on law enforcement is the cellphone. The colossal increase in cell phone usage has enabled law enforcement to easily track down a suspect, discover a suspect’s plans or activity or learn more about a suspect just by reviewing their cellphone or cell tower data.
People would like to believe that law enforcement agencies conduct cell phone surveillance in a lawful manner but in this age of whistle blowers, it is well known that it is seldom the case. One of the highly advertised advantages of Apple iPhones is that your personal data on the phone is encrypted and law enforcement is supposedly unable to access or extract information from an iPhone. There was a public outcry over the inability of the FBI to access the iPhone data of the San Bernardino terrorist. As the FBI was unable to crack the code they asked Apple to create software which would allow them access and Apple reportedly refused this request. The FBI reacted by creating a 3rd party hacking software to break into the phone’s data and then went to court to compel Apple to comply with the FBIs request.
Although Apple claims that iPhones are safe from data breaches, an Israeli company called Cellebrite claims that any iPhone can be hacked. It is important to remember that Cellebrite is a major contractor with the US Government. Furthermore it has been reported that even the supposedly most secure models iPhone X and iPhone 8 may be hacked. Cellebrite is known for providing services to law enforcement agencies such as FBI and ICE. When we consider these facts, the question arises whether it is permissible for law enforcement to hack a person’s cellphone? This translates into a 4th amendment issue. Under the 4th amendment, the US constitution gives citizens the right to be secure from unreasonable and unwarranted searches. If you have been arrested because the police suspect you of committing a crime, can they require you to allow access to your cellphone data? These are disturbing questions to which the courts have yet to provide any definitive answer.
States such as Texas and California allow an individual’s cellphone data to be protected even if you are suspected of having committed a crime. The police Is prohibited from reviewing the contents of your cell phone without your consent or a warrant. However, an exception often utilized by law enforcement in this regard is what’s known as exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances or other such exceptions cite emergency conditions which demand immediate action. In such instances the police may surreptitiously gain access to your cell phone data without either warrant or consent. A competent criminal defense attorney can often use such instances as grounds for a motion to suppress the evidence discovered on the cell phone or any evidence that was gained as a result of information acquired from that cellphone. When these motions are granted they generally result in a dismissal of the case. Proving that police unlawfully searched your phone can be difficult to prove in court.
The rules pertaining to cellphone secrecy are very ambiguous in the state of Colorado therefore it is necessary to retain an experienced and competent criminal defense attorney such as Attorney Daniel M. Murphy that has successfully argued motions to suppress unlawfully gathered evidence in order to protect your freedom and safeguard your rights.