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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer Blog


Cell phone privacy

Three Things You Need to Know About Cell Phone Privacy


Recently, I wrote about why it is often wise to invoke your right to remain silent. That is because any information you provide – even as a witness — can later be used against you in court. Similarly, your cell phone contains an abundance of personal information that law enforcement officers can use to build a case against you.

Most people have an expectation of privacy when using their phone. In a groundbreaking case on Fourth Amendment privacy rights and modern technology in June 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police must obtain warrants before searching the digital contents of cellphones taken from people who are placed under arrest.  Some experts believe that the court’s unanimity sends a strong signal about digital privacy rights  —  that overzealous gathering of digital information in many forms may be seen as unreasonable.

While this ruling may appear to be a win for digital privacy rights, it is always wise to exercise caution when using your cell phone.  Following are three key items to keep in mind as you enjoy chatting, texting, and posting on social media:

1. You have little to no expectation of privacy of the contents of your cell phone. In short, if arrested you should expect the police to conduct a thorough search of your phone.  This includes your contacts, calls, calendar, text and email messages, and recent social media posts.

2. Your cell phone can disclose your location at a certain time of day with real proximity to your exact location. It can show with whom you were speaking, for how long, and where you were when the conversation took place.

3. Photographs on your phone are encrypted with a date, time and exact location based using exact longitude and latitude coordinates.

This information is vital for potentially defending against false allegations. Explanations of innocence and proof of whereabouts at the time of an alleged crime can be established using this technology. However, individuals should be aware that this shield could also serve as a sword, as information obtained through your cell phone can also be used against you.

If you find yourself in a situation in which you believe personal information is being used against you unfairly, talking to an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer may give you peace of mind.