Media and the Balance Between Public Safety and Privacy

The birth, proliferation, and integration of social media into our society is now complete. Indeed, many of us rely on social media not only for updates from our friends, but also for news, events, entertainment, information, and social interactions. Law enforcement is also using social media. In fact, social media has given law enforcement an incredible, nearly indigestible amount of open source information into the lives of the communities in which they serve. Law enforcement uses this information to analyze crime patterns, gang affiliations, and to solicit information from the community. Additionally, law enforcement uses social media to communicate with the public in times of crisis (i.e., emergency plan implementation). It is imperative for you as a criminal justice professional to be able to effectively use social media and understand how the police are using it to identify, locate, and apprehend suspects. However, there is a popular saying that “technology moves faster than the law.” The legality of information obtained by law enforcement from social media is unclear. At what point does police use of information obtained on social media become a “search” or a “seizure” in the legal sense? Does it matter if the post is public (and obtained openly) or private (and obtained from the social network via subpoena)? How can we guarantee that the account owner made the posts that the police want to use as evidence? What, if any, rights do the accused have to protect them from unlawful searches and seizures on social media? Is the right to privacy violated when police obtain this information and/or seek to introduce it as evidence? Although there have been many law review articles and scholarly journals written arguing one way or the other, courts are still deciding the answers to these types of questions regarding law enforcement’s use of social media. To Prepare: For this Assignment, you will be using the Kaltura software to record a video. Review the instructions for recording with Kaltura that are posted in the Course Navigation bar. Imagine that you have been hired as an expert witness by either the prosecution or defense in a Supreme Court case. In this role, you are to provide testimony on whether, in your expert opinion, the use of social media to collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing is fair and legally reasonable. First, you will choose a specific recent case to focus on. Then, you will create a video of your testimony. It should be approximately 10 minutes in length. The Assignment: Choose a recent case on the use of social media to collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Then, choose a side to act as an expert witness for either the prosecution or defense. You will create a testimony on whether the way evidence collected of criminal wrongdoing is fair and legally reasonable. Using the Kaltura software, create a video of your testimony. Your testimony should be approximately 10 minutes and include the following: Begin by explaining the social media case you have chosen to act as an expert witness in, in a few sentences. Explain which side you are representing on whether the use of social media to collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing is fair and legally reasonable. State your opinion based on your analysis, and defend your analysis with references to scholarly resources, journal articles, or other legal sources. Be sure to focus on the specific methods the police used to obtain the evidence via social media in the case you selected and how the evidence was used in the course of the investigation (e.g., to further it, to conclude it, to arrest, etc.). Finish with a conclusion that contains a compelling statement or statements for the court to consider.

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