Privacy Advocates Raise Concerns About Mass Surveillance by Police

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hartford crimnal defense lawyerIn recent years, the use of cell phone location data by police in criminal investigations has become a controversial issue. Critics argue that the use of this data violates privacy rights, while proponents argue that it is a valuable investigatory tool. While there is no denying that the use of location data can help law enforcement investigate crimes and identify suspects, there are valid privacy concerns that can affect the rights of defendants in criminal cases. Recently, the extent of police surveillance of private citizens has become more clear as advocates have uncovered the widespread use of a tool that can track people's location data.

Fog Reveal Provides "Mass Surveillance on a Budget"

An investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has found that the company Fog Data Science LLC has provided a cell phone location data tracking tool to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. This tool is known as Fog Reveal, and it allows police to access information about people's devices and track their movements over multiple months. While this has aided police in investigations and prosecutions of several high-profile cases, the use of this tool has been secretive, and in many cases, law enforcement officials and prosecutors have failed to disclose the methods used to identify suspects during criminal cases.

Fog Reveal uses information purchased from data brokers who obtain location data from apps used on people's smartphones. This data is supposedly anonymous, since it does not include any personal details such as people's names or addresses, and users are tracked through "advertising IDs" that are assigned to their devices. However, it is often a simple matter to identify a person by tracking the locations they visit regularly, such as their home and workplace. Most people are unaware that the apps they regularly use will sell their data to others and that this information may be accessed by law enforcement.

To make matters more troubling, police are often able to obtain people's location data without obtaining search warrants. While "geofence warrants" may be used to access identifying details related to location data from cell phone companies or services such as Google, the information provided through Fog Reveal is accessible without the need to obtain a warrant. This is due to the fact that the data is anonymized, and people voluntarily agreed to turn over this data when using apps that tracked their locations. As more and more people become aware of the mass surveillance capabilities that are available to law enforcement, criminal justice advocates are working to address concerns about the use of this technology and ensure that people are protected against the unreasonable search and seizure of their personal information.

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Defense Lawyer

While police now have more tools than ever before that allow them to identify and investigate suspects, people's privacy rights must be respected. When law enforcement fails to disclose the methods used during an investigation or does not take the proper measures to protect people's rights, those charged with crimes may be unable to properly defend themselves. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can ensure that defendants will be able to mount a strong defense, and we will make sure their rights will be protected during their case. If you have questions about how cell phone surveillance or other privacy issues may affect you, contact our Connecticut criminal defense attorney today at 860-290-8690. We provide free consultations, and we will help you determine the best defense strategy in your case.

Sources:

https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2728311139213/tech-tool-offers-police-mass-surveillance-on-a-budget

https://www.eff.org/press/releases/data-broker-helps-police-see-everywhere-youve-been-click-mouse-eff-investigation

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