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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for illegal search and seizureEven though nearly everyone carries a cell phone with them at all times, it has become more and more clear in recent years that this practice exposes a great deal of our personal information. For those who may potentially face criminal charges, police officers or other law enforcement officials may be able to access location data and other information that can be used as evidence. This was made clear following the riots that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. While investigating and prosecuting those who were involved in these incidents, the FBI has accessed multiple different types of personal data. This has raised questions about what types of information are available to law enforcement officials and whether the collection of this data violates people’s constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure.

Location and GPS Data and Search Warrants

Typically, if law enforcement officials wish to access an individual person’s data, such as the calls they have made or the text messages they have sent, they are required to obtain a search warrant. Even if police officers and federal officials cannot access a person’s phone, they may use a variety of other methods to collect data that can provide them with information about people’s location and communications. In some cases, they may request “tower dumps” from cell phone companies to track people’s locations by identifying everyone who connected to a certain cell tower at a certain date and time.

As the use of tower dumps has become more well-known, some courts have found that police must obtain warrants before accessing this type of cell-site location information (CSLI). However, officials may be able to use other methods to access a person’s data, including GPS location data and personal information gathered by other apps. 

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infotainment, Hartford personal injury attorneysIt is amazing to think of how far the technology in cars has come. From Henry Ford’s Model T in 1908 to driverless cars in 2018, car manufacturers are always inventing new ways to use technology to better the driving experience. Vehicles now have the ability to allow drivers to control the car via touch screen. Other vehicles allow drivers to access GPS navigation directions, play music, listen to the radio, and more, all on a screen within the car. About one in three U.S. adults uses “infotainment” systems like these while they while driving. These advances in car technology are meant to make the driving experience more intuitive and efficient, but are these infotainment systems safe?

Driving Blind

According to a study commissioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA), infotainment systems may be putting drivers, passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians at serious risk. Because infotainment systems take drivers’ eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially dangerous periods of time, they cause drivers to essentially be driving blind. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that individuals who use in-vehicle technologies like voice-based and touch screen features were dangerously distracted. The average user of infotainment features is visually and mentally distracted for over 40 seconds when using the system to do things like program navigation, find a radio station, or send a text message. The risk of getting into a car accident doubles by drivers taking their eyes off the road for only 2 seconds, and infotainment users are distracted for 20 times that long!

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