In a previous post, we discussed what you can do if the authorities arrive on your doorstep and request to access the contents of your computer. In such cases, they must have a warrant to perform such a search without your permission.
And while it can be emotionally taxing to have the police searching for incriminating evidence on your premises, at least you can see what they are doing. But as you are likely aware, if a computer is connected to the Internet, then it is possible to access its data remotely without the knowledge of the owner.
Hacking into computer systems is one way that federal authorities can search for evidence of possession of child pornography. And a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is intended to give authorities a much broader reach to make these remote searches.
The change in criminal procedure will allow authorities to use a warrant to search computers, regardless of where they are physically located. One reason this rule change is significant is that allows authorities to access computers that have logged on to sites deemed illicit. In effect, a single warrant would permit a limitless number of searches.
As you might expect, this ruling has detractors who believe that it should be reversed. The matter comes before Congress in December, but if the legislative body does not object to the rule, it will become law.
Clearly, the federal government wants as much freedom as possible to pursue those they believe are engaged in collecting and distributing child pornography. Child pornography charges are extremely serious and a conviction could lead to jail time followed by a lifetime of being labeled a sex offender.
And if you should become the target of such an investigation, it is imperative that you begin to prepare a strong defense. An experienced sex crimes attorney who understands search and seizure laws could work to ensure that your rights are protected. Based on the evidence and the means by which it was collected, it may be possible to have your case dismissed.