Warrantless Data Used as Evidence in Domestic Court

I wrote earlier about the fear that warrantlessly obtained evidence would be used against US citizens and green card holders in domestic criminal cases (rather than to nab foreign terrorists or intelligence agents, as the government has contended is the only purpose of the warrantless spying program). Of course, it was quickly revealed that such evidence was already being used to convict domestic criminals, but the warrantlessly obtained evidence itself wasn’t being introduced into court, rather it was being, essentially laundered.

Now, in a sort of good-news / bad-news twist, federal prosecutors will end the practice of laundering warrantelessly obtained evidence. Continue reading

A Click Away from Conviction: Can PRISM Data Be Legally Used Against You in a Domestic Court?

With the recent disclosures of the mind-blowing extent of the government’s electronic surveillance via the PRISM program, many news outlets have expressed concern that this information might be used for illicit purposes. Now that the NSA has easy access to everyone’s emails, chats, Skype calls, texts and Google searches, what if a disgruntled employee decides to dump a bunch of embarrassing content onto Reddit? What of the possibility of blackmailing political opponents, a la CoIntelPro?

While these are certainly valid concerns, we should also be concerned about the potential for entirely legal abuse of this information. Any of your emails, chats, and searches that may have been mopped up in a PRISM dragnet may well constitute admissible evidence against you for crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism or foreign intelligence. Continue reading