How Private is Your Use of Your Smart Phone?

by | Feb 10, 2014 | Criminal Law

Please note that this is not legal advice. See our disclaimer.

Smart phones have become the standard for most people, providing you with the opportunity to manage a wide range of affairs from your fingertips, and giving you access to the internet just about anywhere you go. Did you know, though, that there are programs that allow third parties to log every keystroke you enter on your phone? Though this is a violation of federal law, it happens more often than you know, and can be extremely difficult to detect. Programs such as Carrier IQ have raised concerns about how much of your personal information is actually being used by others without your permission. Certain phones, like the Apple iPhone and Android phones have location based services that can allow third parties to track where you are and where you have been.

Furthermore, it may come as a surprise to you that even when you “delete” something from your smart phone, it is really not deleted until you overwrite or replace it with other data. Even then, some of your original data may still be available to programs that have access to your phone. The information gathered by companies from your smart phone may ultimately be sought by prosecutors or others in the government.

What are your rights to privacy when you get a smart phone? What can you do to minimize the invasion of your privacy?

Your Rights Under the Law

Currently, your rights under the law are less than clear. Two U.S. Senators, Al Franken of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, asked the U.S. Department of Justice last April to clarify whether they believe that smart phones are already afforded certain privacy privileges under a law enacted to protect home computer users, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. According to many, it is well-established that the CFAA covers smart phones and similar devices.

Subsequent to the request by Senators Franken and Blumenthal, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bill that would require that the government obtain a search warrant to obtain access to any information gathered from your wireless device. The bill proposed by Senator Leahy seeks to update the 25 year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Leahy was the author of the original law.

Nevertheless, no matter what laws are in place to protect your rights, there will always be people that will try to get at your information. Treat your phone as you would anything else that contains your sensitive personal information. It is often the easiest and fastest way for someone to see where you have been and what you have been doing.

Contact Hornstine Law, LLC

At Hornstine Law, LLC, we have decades of criminal law experience. Our attorneys work with people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using our knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you get the outcome you want. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 888-652-0384 (in New Jersey at 609-523-2222).

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