Category Archives: Privacy Laws

Facebook Search Warrants Becoming Popular With Law Enforcement

It’s incredible when you stop and really think about the ways facebook has evolved over the years.  When I first opened my account in college it was used strictly for making plans with close friends and sharing pictures from weekend events.  Slowly my friend list grew bigger, I added people from highschool and classes but when my parents got facebook last year I was boggled.   I honestly believed it would be a cold day in hell before my mom ever signed up for an account, now she uses the site more than I do.  I’ve added aunts, uncles, cousins, strangers i’ve met at the grocery story and the things we post are limitless. So I guess its not really a surprise that local police are now obtaining search warrants that give them access to suspected criminals’ facebook profile pages. The warrants give authorities access to pictures, email addresses, friend lists and GPS locations.

This new trend in law enforcement is raising privacy questions as information from the website is being used in more and more indictements.  And don’t think this issue isn’t hitting close to home, since May 2009 at least three search warrants for facebook accounts have been issued by a federal Detroit Judge.

For more info read the detroit free press article here 

To read other articles we have posted dealing with facebook and privacy click the links below:

Michigan Man Charged With Polygamy After Posting Picture of New Wife on Facebook

Mom Uses Facebook To Raise Money For Non-Existent Baby

How Facebook Might Hurt Your Family Law Case 

Warren Juror Gets Fine and Homework For Her Facebook Post 

Facebook Friend? Or F.B.I Foe?

Holly@ambroselawgroup.com

If you are looking for legal representation contact Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500

We specialize in criminal, family, and bankruptcy law

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Michigan: Police Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops

ACLU seeks information on Michigan program that allows cops to download information from smart phones belonging to stopped motorists.

The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

“Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide,” ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. “No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure.”

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags,” a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device’s capabilities. “The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

“With certain exceptions that do not apply here, a search cannot occur without a warrant in which a judicial officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the search will yield evidence of criminal activity,” Fancher wrote. “A device that allows immediate, surreptitious intrusion into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched.”

The national ACLU is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security for its policy of warrantless electronic searches of laptops and cell phones belonging to people entering the country who are not suspected of committing any crime.

Read the article here 

For more coverage on this topic read the freep.com article here 

Do you think police should be allowed to use technology like this during police stops?

Personally, I consider my phone very private.  Many people have information about their jobs and family on their phone.  I would be very upset if someone accessed that information without my permission or knowledge.

Holly@ambroselawgroup.com

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Filed under Privacy Laws, Traffic Citations/Laws

Are Email Signature Disclaimers Necessary?

I found this article on one of our facebook friend’s page.  Do you agree?

We’ve all gotten emails with disclaimer signatures, like “This email was intended for the recipients only” or “Our company accepts no liability for this email’s content”. It turns out they’re not just annoying—they probably hold no legal weight, either.

The Economist explains the truth about these long, annoying, but very prevalent email signatures:

[Email disclaimers] are assumed to be a wise precaution. But they are mostly, legally speaking, pointless. Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries.

Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable. This is clear in Europe, where a directive from the European Commission tells the courts to strike out any unreasonable contractual obligation on a consumer if he has not freely negotiated it. And a footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal.

They go on to explain that these disclaimers are probably so prevalent because companies see other companies using them, and then decide they should too. If you’re using these in your business emails, you can probably get rid of them—you’ll make all your contacts a whole lot happier, without making yourself any less protected by the law.

Article Link: http://lifehacker.com/#!5790930/disclaimers-in-email-signatures-are-not-just-annoying-but-legally-meaningless

 

Holly@ambroselawgroup.com

 

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Filed under Holly Valente, Internet Laws, Privacy Laws

Macomb County Juror In Trouble For Facebook Post

We’ve posted a few blogs about ways facebook, your phone , and emails , might not be as private as you think.  Today we get one more example to prove our case.  A Macomb County Juror was removed from jury duty  after an attorney uncovered one of her facebook posts. Read the full story here

The defense attorney’s son found the post while checking juror’s names on the internet.

The juror had posted a status stating the defendant was guilty, BEFORE the trial had ended.  The juror may now face contempt of court charges and possible jail time.

Thoughts?

Holly@ambroselawgroup.com

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Filed under Contempt of Court, Holly Valente, Jury Duty, Privacy Laws, Social Media And The Law

Is Anything Private Anymore??

Think your data is safe online? How about your emails? The location of your car?

You may be surprised to find out how much effort the government is putting into collecting as much of your private data as it can.  And even more surprised to find out how much exposure you really have.

The ACLU has put together a pretty informative and disturbing privacy quiz: click here to check it out: http://www.aclu.org/privacyquiz/

The results might surprise you!

Ambrose Law Group

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Facebook Friend? Or F.B.I Foe?

Ambrose Law Group is a firm believer in NEVER talking to the police. We repeat NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE!  Other than your name and identifying information you have the right to remain silent.  Even if you know your innocent it’s best to inform the officer you are choosing to remain silent and request to see your lawyer.  There are a few reasons we urge you to do this.  First, you cannot talk yourself out of being arrested. Nothing you say will  make a difference or help you in anyway, even if you are innocent.  The police have the right to use anything you say AGAINST you in a court of law.  But nothing you say can be used to HELP you.  That would be considered hearsay and inadmissible.  Even if you are innocent it’s easy to make a mistake in your story, forget facts or accidentally lie.  There are many innocent people who are sitting in jail because they chose to speak with the police.  If you are guilty there’s no need to rush into confessing. There will be plenty of time for that later. If you confess you might ruin your chances of working out a good plea deal, having your case dismissed or even having a good defense at trial.

With all of that being said there was a very interesting article in the Free Press yesterday and there’s a chance you might be talking to the police without even realizing it! U.S. Law Enforcement has discovered the world of Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Linked In and more, and they’re using these social networking sites to incriminate you. The FBI has been using fake profiles to go undercover and communicate with suspects as well as gather info to use in court.  They’re using the sites to check alibi’s, find incriminating photos and locate missing suspects.  Read the full story here .

I read the article and then thought about all the social-networking sites I use. Upon a bit of self-reflection I realized good grief there’s a lot of info about me out there! And I’m always accepting people left and right on my facebook and twitter!  Maybe I need to be a little more cautious with some of this internet stuff?! Your thoughts?

So anyways, make sure you know the  friend requests your accepting. Everything you type, tweet, and post could be used against you in a court of law!

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Filed under 5th Amendment Rights, Privacy Laws, Search and Seizure, Social Media And The Law