Digital-based criminal evidence: Is there a problem here?

Most of our readers across Indiana and elsewhere likely share a common bond — at least to some extent — regarding their interactions with digital devices (think any hand-held computer-based tool, such as a smartphone and, additionally, things like laptop computers, GPS systems, live gaming tools and so forth).

And let’s not forget so-called “personal assistant devices” such as Amazon’s Echo and similar tools, which provide spoken responses to user-initiated queries. Such devices are fast becoming widely popular and growing in use as they await instructions from kitchen counters, living room tables and other home-based locales.

Not every person is so enamored of digital devices as to surround himself or herself with them, of course, but, as noted in one recent media piece, there is a growing tendency for many of us to “swarm our homes” with them.

Here’s one implication of that, notes that article: Those gadgets are certain to become focal points in a growing number of crime investigations across the country.

Echo is already at center stage in one crime probe, with authorities in one state recently executing a search warrant seeking recorded information that they think might be recoverable from remote Amazon servers.

If it exists and provides investigators with what they want to hear, the device might become Exhibit A in a murder trial.

Amazon is fighting back, stating that it objects “to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

The case involving Echo has been pointed to by privacy advocates as being problematic and for shining a spotlight on the potential abuse that might reasonably result from authorities’ demands to have access to all manner of digital devicespeople are now routinely interacting with.

“[P]utting together a whole bunch of different devices to make a case” can understandably be troubling, notes a principal of one group that promotes users’ — not the government’s — control over technology tools.

Times are indeed changing, and quickly, with obvious implications for evidence-based matters in criminal investigations.

Any person with questions or concerns regarding any evidence-related issue might reasonably want to timely consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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