Data can be accessed with only a subpoena

Texas residents who use apps such as Ring or Lyft may not have full control of their data. Only three states require that police get a warrant before accessing information about an individual from those or other popular apps. Companies such as Ring readily hand over information to police officers who ask to use it as part of an investigation if individuals won’t do so willingly themselves.

It is also possible that tech companies will provide personal information to authorities after being served with a subpoena. This is the general policy of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Unlike a warrant, there is no need to establish probable cause to obtain a subpoena. Therefore, an individual’s name, address and other data could be given to outside parties even if that person hasn’t been charged with a crime.

A representative from the R Street Institute says that more transparency is needed as it relates to how data is used. This person says that companies should be more forthcoming with how a user’s data is shared with authorities and other parties. Furthermore, authorities should be more forthcoming about their ability to access information and use it as part of a criminal investigation. Ideally, government agencies will take steps to securely store or destroy data after an investigation is complete.

Individuals who are being investigated or charged with a crime generally have the right to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to help a person avoid jail time, probation or other penalties related to a conviction. In some cases, a criminal charge may be thrown out prior to the start of a trial.