Discussion recently with colleagues and contemporaries became somewhat heated over the attempted terrorist takeover and attack on the U.S. Capitol last week on Wednesday, January 6th. There was unanimous accord that the “breaking and entering” of the congressional building and the seat of the United States government was wrong. Others questioned the 4th amendment right to privacy in the on-going use of Federal and state investigators using facial recognition systems & technology in their pursuit of the suspects involved and responsible for the destruction and deaths. There was argument over the use of the technology when it came to the acquisition of this data from the social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Tic-Tok, et al. in their investigations.
The question of precedence arose from the matter involving subpoenaed potential evidence from businesses, who have surveillance systems and specifically social media who for a greater part of the digital images and video that are sent from consumers to their networks.
This contention over privacy in the context of the U.S. Constitution and the 4th Amendment will invariably be filed by the defendants in their defense whose content and data clearly incriminates them.
There are also questions regarding the compliance of the businesses who own, by virtue of their required compliant TOS (Terms of Service) the data held and stored, and of those who use these online businesses; up to and including businesses that are not online entities.
The attack on the capitol was clearly a criminal terrorist attack and there is no question of this from the current publicized television/cable broadcasted images and footage of this terrible event in U.S. history. However, the question begs to what degree and to what legal remedy can this be used in the prosecution of those who participated in the attack and with violent intent.
There are those who argue that the subsequent precedence in the use of the technology will and shall result in dire consequences to ‘freedom’ and privacy rights. And there are those who declare that precedence has already been established in the digital forensic investigations, prosecutions and imprisonment of defendants in the past. Not to mention potential and admitted into evidence data held by witnesses, and other private individuals on their own devices.
The attack on the Capitol will once again test Article IV (and perhaps others) in the Bill of Rights however it’s common knowledge and a natural fact that those may see this as a last ditch aegis to spare them from imprisonment may be moot. As moot as their reason to try to ‘protest’ in wanton deadly defiance of the certified and legal election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and predicated on a lies, deceit and propaganda from the last general election loser, Donald J. Trump.
And an online #GoFundMe page or even a pre-pardon _ [*insert canned laughter] _ by Trump may not be sufficient in their legal defense.