Rethinking the Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age

Recently a man was arrested in suspicion of a murder from location data that was fished from cell phones in the area and google search records used to narrow down a suspect who most certainly had committed the crime (news link) . Ok, they got the “bad” guy or suspect or whatever. But the way law enforcement executed it should have you questioning your belief’s on what a “search” is and if this is going a direction that is going to be hard to stop since it played out like an operation in a war zone.

Take the illustration below. Typically a judge grants a warrant to give law enforcement the ability to track suspects with probably cause for a set time frame. However, with the way information is exchanged in this so called digital age, everyone is always tracked, and a warrant is only used to read data that is already stored.

We know how easy it is to fabricate news stories to influence elections, product reviews on Amazon to influence purchases, etc. If arresting people from digital fingerprints becomes a fad, it will be very scary. A preponderance of information can easily be injected into anyone’s digital accounts and would be hard to build a defense against if every digital fingerprint always assumed factual.

So, was this right? Is the easy way the right way?