The Right Lawyer,
for the Right Reasons

Attorney Jordan Van Matre

Police may get phone records from tech companies 

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When the police want to get information off of someone’s smartphone during an investigation, they can start by requesting access from the individual. If they can’t get consent, then they may decide to get a search warrant. These types of investigations can get fairly complex.

In some cases, though, police officers will actually get a search warrant for the tech company that holds the information. After all, even if the phone is used to access that information, it may be stored in the cloud. This means that it is in a server bank and the phone simply accesses it through the mobile network or Wi-Fi. If officers can get the evidence they are seeking – such as text messages, direct messages, photographs, or videos – from the tech company, then they have the information on the phone without actually opening the device itself.

A geofence warrant can be used 

Another way that police use warrants with tech companies is known as a geofence. Essentially, if the police know where a criminal activity took place, they can request information regarding who was in the area at the time. Many phones use apps that always track their location, so tech companies can theoretically identify which devices were near that crime scene.

But even this can be somewhat controversial. Even if the tech company can identify that a device was in the area, do they actually know who was holding the device at the time?

Criminal defense options

This helps to show how police use warrants to obtain digital evidence, something that is always changing as technology evolves. It’s important for those who are facing charges to know what criminal defense options they have.