Law enforcement has improved crime fighting technology vastly over the
past few years. The internet is often used to commit crimes such as internet
sex crimes, identity theft, and terroristic threats. Some citizens concerned
with the government’s confirmed spying through sources such Edward
Snowden, Wikileaks and have taken steps to attempt to communicate in private.
Some internet users attempt to anonymously search online through programs
such as TOR (the onion router). While the TOR network can provide some
type of anonymity for users who prefer to protect their identity, it can
also be used by individuals seeking to participate in illegal activity.
As the bitcoin gained popularity, law enforcement became aware of allegations
it was frequently used for illegal activity and, as such, investigations
into Silk Road and other networks were infiltrated by law enforcement.
While it is clear that law enforcement has the techniques, technology
and ability to track many people who believe they are communicating anonymously,
issues have arisen as to whether the network investigation techniques
and other strategies used by law enforcement violate the Fourth Amendment
that protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.
United State Supreme Court has recently validated many citizens’
concerns about government’s overreach in the search of cell phones
in the cases of California v. Davis and United States v. Jones. The courts
recognize that we trade a certain amount of interest in technology in
order to use the convenience of technology. However, the courts also recognize
that some of the privacy we give to internet service providers and others
who help us to thrive in a tech savvy nation does not necessarily mean
that we have given the government the right to track our movements and
inquiries. Often in cases involving law enforcement infiltration networks
that involve the sale of illegal drugs, firearms, or child pornography
the issue does not become whether law enforcement can find these things,
but whether they can do so lawfully. If law enforcement, through an illegal
technique or other process, obtains a citizen’s private and constitutionally
protected information, it can be suppressed or thrown out of court in
the event criminal charges are filed.
While the public expects the government to protect it from terrorists and
other threats, citizens also expect that their right to privacy will be
protected by their government and that the constitution will be upheld
by the government. In cases where the person is arrested and the person
believes that the arrest or the search that led to the arrest was made
in violation of their constitutional rights, criminal defense attorneys
must act as the watch dogs and vigilantly protect the constitutional rights
of the citizens regardless of the crime accused.