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Is your private internet browsing really private?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Your computer and phone have several settings that suggest they can increase your privacy. It’s true they can increase it, but nowhere near as much as you might think. 

When you close a window or browsing tab, the evidence of your browsing lives on. This applies even if you use private or incognito mode as all they do is prevent anyone else from picking up your device or a connected device and seeing what you have been looking at. Internet providers and browser companies maintain records of your internet activity in some form or other.

The police often access people’s browser histories

Law enforcement officers are allowed to access your browsing history, provided they have the correct permissions, which they are quite likely to get if you are under criminal investigation.

With appropriate permission, they can request access to your internet activity from the browser company itself. So, if, for example, it is Google you have been using, the police can apply to the Law Enforcement Request System (LERS) that Google has specifically set up due to the number of requests it gets.

As for the browser company refusing a request – don’t get your hopes up as Google’s own statistics show it gives at least some information out in reply to between 80 and 90% of all requests. They won’t necessarily tell you if they have given the police information either.

Bear this in mind when considering your defense options

If you worry your internet activity will increase the chance you are convicted, whether rightly or wrongly, then it’s important to factor this in when considering your defense options.

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