Unless you’re someone who is likely to have their phone tapped by police, you can generally feel secure with the knowledge that whenever you pick up your phone, what you email or text will be private unless the police obtain a warrant to get it. But a new government surveillance technique might make you question this very notion. Privacy advocates and Vista criminal lawyers question the constitutionality of this new concept, but until it’s tried in courts, law enforcement agencies will be able to take advantage of it.
Spy Now, Ask Permission Later
It recently came to light that the DEA sold a suspected cocaine dealer encrypted Blackberry devices that they kept the encryption keys for. With that information, Vista criminal attorneys explain they could potentially read all of the messages sent to and from the devices whenever they decide to. The DEA also may have obtained malware for smartphones that will allow them to spy on multiple suspects’ locations.
While it’s not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to obtain data from a suspect’s cell phone after obtaining a warrant, these technologies allow the agencies to search through the data without actually seizing the phones and essentially permits wiretapping and tracking of your location before a warrant is issued, even if the data can only be recovered after a warrant is obtained.
Serious Privacy Questions
While it is a small comfort that the agencies still must obtain a warrant before retrieving the data from these phones, there is a serious problem in that cellphones change hands all the time. That means anyone buying or inheriting a used cell phone could potentially end up having a pre-bugged phone that could be triggered to send private data at any time. Just because the DEA, FBI or local police force knows that a suspect had a cellphone at one given point doesn’t mean that person will still be in possession of the phone when they have enough evidence to get a warrant.
The notion that any used cellphone could be a spy device for the U.S. government is a chilling notion for free speech advocates and criminal attorneys in Vista and elsewhere. Perhaps most disturbingly is that there is no information on how widely spread this practice is and since it has not yet been challenged in courts, it is still technically legal. As it stands, there is evidence that as many as 1000 phones have government-installed malware.
If you believe police improperly accessed your data before charging you with a crime, a Vista criminal lawyer like Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
Creative Commons Image by Peter Burka