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The critical issues with geofence warrants in Maryland

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The essence of technology is to make people’s lives easier by improving the efficiency of daily activities. Companies like Alphabet (Google) are at the forefront of providing a one-stop solution for almost all of our daily activities. You can almost find everything you need with just a few clicks on your phone or computer. However, the increasing use of technology has raised concerns about privacy and the protection of personal information in Maryland. Here’s how.

Understanding geofence warrants

When law enforcement investigates someone for a crime, they will go to court to ask for warrants to let them find any information about that person. This includes information about where someone has been, for how long they have been there, who they talked to and what they have been searching for on the internet.

Geofence warrants are court orders that allow law enforcement to request data from technology companies like Google or Microsoft on users who were in a specific geographic area at a certain time. To provide a perspective, these warrants give police officers access to the data of everyone (both phones and laptops) in a particular area for the period they deem fit for their investigation.

The controversy surrounding geofence warrants

While geofence warrants can help solve crimes, they raise privacy and constitutional rights concerns. Some argue that geofence warrants violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. According to this law, police officers must have a compelling reason to search your person and property. However, geofence warrants allow them to gather data on individuals who did not commit a crime, thus opening the door for potential abuse of power.

From a criminal defense perspective, geofence warrants pose a significant threat. These warrants are often overly broad, encompassing innocent bystanders who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This can lead to false accusations and legal complications for those without connection to the crime.

Be that as it may, embracing the intersection of technology and law enforcement may be a necessary step in fighting modern-day crimes. However, it should not come at the expense of your fundamental rights as a citizen. There are laws meant to protect you from such an invasion of your privacy.