Law enforcement professionals face a variety of obstacles when attempting to gather evidence. One of the largest issues is the balance between privacy and security. There is an inverse relationship between an individual’s level of privacy, and the information subject to law enforcement investigation. One of the most important documents protecting individual privacy is the Fourth Constitutional Amendment. There is an inherent balance between individual privacy and national security. (Gliksberg, 2019) While national security may seem to be the obvious option, individual privacy effects each and every citizen. The United Nations declared that privacy is a universal basic human right. (United Nations, n.d.) This presents a competition between law enforcement activists who work diligently to increase national security, and privacy rights activists working to protect what the United Nations considers to be a universal basic human right. There are valid arguments on both sides, which suggests that an optimal balance must be located. This is not an empirical issue which can be measured and calculated, and that means that the optimal balance may never be found. Nevertheless, it is crucial that United States citizens are provided with impenetrable national security and valuable individual privacy.
Additionally, as technology advances, out legislation must keep up. Innovations in technology has provided law enforcement with opportunities not previously possible. Previously, all evidence was collected within the physical domain. Subsequently all the legislation regarding evidence collection was written for items of physical evidence. Remote evidence collection was a new possibility provided to law enforcing by the widespread implementation of internetworked computer systems. While computer information systems have been around for decades, the legislation regarding remote evidence collection is fairly new. In 2016 the Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal procedure was amended to reflect this possibility. (Legal Information Institute, n.d.) The possibility of remote evidence collection was a latent effect from networked computer systems. While this may not have been intended, it highlights idea that new technologies will have numerous effects on individual privacy, and the investigative ability of law enforcement.
Gliksberg, C. (2019). DECRYPTING THE FOURTH AMENDMENT: APPLYING FOURTH AMENDMENT PRINCIPLES TO EVOLVING PRIVACY EXPECTATIONS IN ENCRYPTION TECHNOLOGIES. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 765-792.
Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Rule 41. Search and Seizure. (Cornell Law School) Retrieved from law.cornell.edu: https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/rule_41
United Nations. (n.d.). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from un.org: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/