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Protecting Your Rights: Where Did Privacy Go?

Protecting your rights is becoming more difficult for Michigan Criminal Defense lawyers.  It seems like every other week we're picking up the newspaper or listening to the evening news about a new way the government infringes on a person's privacy rights. As technology improves, not only do we need to worry about internet hackers, stalkers and identity thieves, but now we have to worry about the government as well.

In a recent U.S. District Court decision, the U.S District Court in Pittsburgh (Judge Joy Flowers Conti) held that people do NOT have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the signal that is being sent or received from their wireless routers.

One key element of an individual's 4th Amendment rights is to be "secure in their persons ... against unreasonable search and seizure ..." Over the years, the courts have struggled with how to determine what types of searches and seizures are reasonable without a warrant, if any. The main question asked in these types of cases is whether the person claiming that their privacy was violated by the police or some other government entity, had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" when undergoing that particular activity.

So, as technology improves and our ability to use it becomes easier, the courts are again, struggling to determine what and where in this cyber age, are we, as individuals, entitled to a "reasonable expectation of privacy." What online activities can we perform, and from where, and using what method, will entitle us to a "reasonable" expectation of privacy?

According to one recent Pittsburgh federal court decision, we are not entitled to that expectation in our IP addresses. In discussing a recent child pornography case U.S. District Court Judge Conti held that:

"An internet subscriber does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his IP address or the information he provides to his Internet Service Provider ... and likewise, a person connecting to another person's wireless router does not have an expectation of privacy in that connection,"

Apparently people are "knowingly" broadcasting their whereabouts via these wireless signals are giving up that expectation of privacy, and their expectation of privacy for the information sent and received via this signal as well. So, next time you decide to send something from you Iphone at the neighborhood Starbucks, remember that Big Brother may be watching.

If you or someone you love is being investigated or charged with a computer crime, internet sting, sex crime, including child pornography, wire fraud, or another federal crime, or if you believe your 4th Amendment rights have been violated, it is important that you contact an experienced Detroit federal criminal defense attorney for help protecting your rights.

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