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Technology as a Witness in Criminal Cases

Technology is all around us. It's no longer a choice if we want to take part in the innovative revolution; new devices are now a part of our everyday lives. Many of these modern technologies make our everyday lives easier, and some of them may also make it easier for law enforcement to solve crimes. With all the latest technology out there recording our every step and command, it's hard to ensure any type of real privacy. The very same technology that makes it easier for us to find out answers to questions and order commodities easily, record our fitness goals, and even stay in contact with our friends may be the very same technology that can help law enforcement solve crimes. Are you aware of the ways that technology can serve as a witness in criminal cases?

Fitbit

The Fitbit device, often worn around the wrist, is a great tool for those who want to record fitness goals. It can record heartbeats, sleep schedules, locations, distances, and steps taken in a day. All of this information is saved as data for the user to track progress. This type of information makes Fitbit a perfect witness for a crime such as the murder of its user. In one such case, a man told police that his wife had been murdered one night by a home intruder. He explained to police that his wife struggled with the intruder to her death. However, after consulting the data from the woman's Fitbit, police were able to determine that the woman was actually walking around during the time of the "struggle", and that her last moment of life was the following morning. Her husband was later charged with her murder as well as providing false evidence to police.

Fitbit and other fitness tracking devices have also been used as witnesses in sexual assault cases, as well as personal injury cases, proving that information that you save for innocent reasons such as fitness tracking could one day be called upon to prove a case for or against you.

Amazon Echo "Alexa"

Alexa has been in the news lately for being a perfect silent witness to several crimes. This "always on" device is a piece of machinery that "sleeps" until the command word is spoken. However, the device is always listening for the word to be spoken, therefore, it could be recording other conversations or happenings that occur near the operating microphone. This type of listening device is also being considered for other brands such as Ford, Dish, Samsung, and Whirlpool, meaning that many devices your own home may be listening to you.

In the case of crime solving, Amazon has been very adamant that police must show a compelling need to obtain the information recorded by Alexa, and that they must prove that the information is integral to solving a case, as outlined in a legal search warrant. However, many argue that the data is already saved in an Amazon Cloud, and could be easily accessed. Amazon Echo and other similar devices are backed by cloud-based Artificial Intelligence that is always on and recording, and as it turns out, may be used against you.

Social Media

This type of witness may be a little more obvious, but is still worth mentioning when discussing new technologies and how they may be used to solve a crime. Certain social media networks may be recording more than you think they are even if you are not actively posting. Some devices and networks are tied into your phone's location services, and may be called on to be used as confirmation of your location if you are implicated in a crime. Whether you are using social networks to "check-in", or you are interacting with specific accounts online, all of this may be used as a witness if you are involved in a criminal incident.

If you are charged with a crime, it's extremely important to contact a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate the criminal justice system with regards to certain types of technology that may or may not be used against you.

References:

Hauser, C. (2017, April 28). Fitbit is a silent witness in Connecticut homicide case. Retrieved May 04, 2017, from http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/fitbit-is-a-silent-witness-in-connecticut-homicide-case/

Sauer, G. (2017, February 28). A Murder Case Tests Alexa's Devotion to Your Privacy. Retrieved May 04, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2017/02/murder-case-tests-alexas-devotion-privacy/

L. (2017, May 02). Facebook helps police capture murder suspect. Retrieved May 04, 2017, from http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/facebook-helps-police-capture-murder-suspect/704324461

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