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Attorney Jordan Van Matre

Can the police get your electronic data?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Whether you use your smartphone for everything or you use a tablet or laptop, you certainly don’t welcome the idea of the police going through your devices and looking at where you’ve been, what you’ve searched and what you’ve downloaded.

But, can you stop them from obtaining the information? Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

You can refuse entry, but that doesn’t mean the police won’t get in

Even if you have password protection or biometric locks on your devices, the odds are high that the police can still break into your devices, particularly if they have a warrant. (Although there are massive loopholes in the law that allow for all kinds of warrantless searches, particularly if you’re in the process of traveling in or out of the country.)

While you can (and should) refuse to help the police get a peek into your data by physically unlocking any of your electronics for them, the authorities have a variety of tools at their disposal that can often bypass encryptions and locks. 

Plus, if you’ve never read the “terms and service” agreements put out by your favorite tech companies, you may not be aware that they routinely turn over data about users for all kinds of legal requests. According to Google’s own reports, it honored more than 80% of the requests it received from law enforcement in 2020 alone.

In practical terms, this means being very conscious of the fact that your electronic data is most certainly not immune to intrusion. If you find yourself in a situation where something questionable was found on your computer or phone, it’s always wisest to seek legal guidance.