Can Your Online Search History Land you in Prison in Texas?
The idea that you can ever truly be incognito online is a myth.
In addition, government agencies and law enforcement agencies could monitor online activity. They have a variety of tools that can identify individuals who are engaging in illegal or harmful activities online.
Steps like using encryption tools, being cautious about sharing personal information online and using virtual private networks can improve your online privacy. Nothing is foolproof, however.
Many VPNs are compelled to cooperate with law enforcement agencies or may be required to comply with court orders.
If you are using the internet legally, you are generally protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects against unreasonable searches. Certain online searches are risky. No matter how hard you try to fight it, you almost always leave a digital footprint online. Clearing your search history, cookies and cache is not enough.
According to The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp federal law is very clear on what not to search on Google. This includes:
Images or video of child sexual abuse or exploitations
Content that promotes terrorism or advocates terrorism.
Content that promotes, incites, or instructs crime or violence.
Video or images of real violence cruelty and criminal activity.
In addition, the Texas Penal Code also outlines internet crimes. Some of these include solicitation of a minor, catfishing, phishing, torrenting, or using multiple servers to download large files, online harassment, impersonation, breach of computer security or unlawful decryption.
Online searching for terms related to any of these activities can lead to arrest and possible imprisonment.
While Google will probably not report suspicious searches. They are not required to actively monitor illegal content. They will, however, report rimes such as child pornography. Frankly, that is a good thing. They will also turn over your search data if any law enforcement agency requests it.
Generally speaking, if you are searching for illegal activities online, you are looking to participate in illegal activities. Do it often enough, and you will find yourself in a police interrogation room or taking frequent prison showers.