Technology: Friend or Foe?

Posted by Jessica Travis in Criminal Law Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Technology: Friend or Foe?

By Jessica Travis on Friday, May 26, 2017

Technology makes our lives much easier, and is becoming more and more affordable. Homes that can talk to us, or sense when we are home, are not just things we see on futuristic television shows, or in the homes of the rich and famous anymore. Many people are using technology on a daily basis for a variety of things. Homes can now have security systems that sense when someone enters and leaves a room. There are also air conditioning devices that can detect when you are home, and cool your home accordingly. Many homeowners often install video cameras inside and outside their homes, that they can monitor from their smartphones while not at home. Wearable fitness trackers such as Fitbit can help track your exercise and workout routines. Amazon created Echo, a device where you can ask “Alexa” to do things including turning lights on and off, ordering pizzas and more. What most people do not realize is that all of this technology that makes our lives easier, could also be used against you—to find you guilty of a crime.

Police recently arrested and charged a man in Connecticut with the murder of his wife by using data from their home security system and from the wife’s Fitbit. He claimed his wife had been killed during a home invasion, but police felt his story was not completely true. The police compared his security alarm records with his phone and email records and found they did not match his timeline of events. The police also checked the wife’s Fitbit data, and found that she was moving around in the house after the time the husband said she had been killed in the alleged home invasion.

Late in 2016, police in Arkansas had requested Amazon to release the records from James Bates’ Echo device as part of a murder

investigation. Amazon’s Echo is a device that is voice activated and can play music, make calls, look up information and more. To activate the device, the user says the wake word, which is usually “Alexa” and then asks the device for what they want. While Echo is always listening, Amazon claims that Echo only records any sounds that occurred a fraction of a second before the wake word was spoken, and then everything after the wake word. Sometimes the device will think it has heard the wake word or will hear the wake work on the radio or TV and start recording. The police thought there was a chance that the device may have been recording during the time a murder had occurred at the home, and potentially could have audio evidence of the murder. However, Amazon refused to release the records stating they do not release customer information without a “valid and binding legal demand.” While companies like Amazon may fight to protect their customer’s privacy, police can obtain warrants to acquire the information they are seeking. However, in March Bates agreed to allow Amazon to release the information from his Echo to the prosecutors because he says he is innocent.

Police can obtain warrants and use information obtained from cell phones including call and text histories as well as photographs and videos against you. Many people think if they just delete the text conversations or pictures they are safe, but everything, even things that have been deleted can be found and used against you. In the technology world, nothing is ever actually deleted, and people with the right knowledge and skills can still find your deleted conversations, pics and other electronic information that may have been on your phone or other electronics. Cell phones can also be used to track an individual’s location or route traveled. More and more people are posting photographs and videos to social media sites. Many people

either do not realize or do not remember that the police can use information posted to social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter against you. Even if you have set your security and privacy settings to only allow certain people or friends to view what you have posted, police can still find them. Nothing is ever 100% secure, and security settings are not enough to always protect what you post from the eyes of others.

While technology is good, and has made many aspects of our lives much easier and more convenient, it is important to remember that it can also be “big brotherish,” you never know who may be watching, therefore you should always remember to enjoy technology responsibly.

If you find yourself in a situation where law enforcement is trying to use your technology against you, you need to contact an experienced attorney to help defend you. With the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney, who is knowledgeable in this aspect of the law, your rights can be upheld. I urge you to consult with me by calling 407-233-3210 or 888-778-7638 toll free.

During your free, initial consultation, we can discuss your circumstances and legal options privately and in confidence.

If we agree that I am the right attorney to defend you, I will represent you aggressively and to the fullest extent of the law.

co-authored by Patricia Blotzer

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