The Feds Are Watching: 'Snaps' Only Given to Feds with Seach Warrant
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 17:10
The iPhone and Android app Snapchat gives users the ability to snap a picture that would be gone within seconds of opening the message. But, as of lately users need to be on the alert with what they are sending out if they have law enforcement in their lives.
Unopened “snaps” can be seized by law enforcement officials – within reason. Unopened messages are stored on cloud servers used as a vehicle for sending information.
Micah Schaffer, Snapchat Inc.’s officer of Trust and Safety wrote on their blog to explain exactly what is going on: "So what happens to them [snaps] before they are opened? Most of Snapchat's infrastructure is hosted on Google's cloud computing service, App Engine. Most of our data, including unopened Snaps, are kept in App Engine's datastore until they are deleted,” he said. “
By federal law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Snapchat is required to relinquish snaps that are still on their servers. Law enforcement must have a search warrant in order to successfully get a hold of snaps.
According to abcnews.com a lawyer, specialized in internet privacy and social media, Bradley Shear said,” The fact that government needs to go the warrant route is a very positive thing for Snapchat users’ privacy,” he said. “The feds usually ask for a subpoena over a warrant since it is a much lower level of requirement.
Without information floating in cloud servers, the company would not be able to get everyone’s message sent. There are millions of snaps sent a day.
Regardless of law enforcement’s abilities, smart phones have the screenshot feature that allows them to take pictures of just about anything they see on their screen. Nothing is stopping other outside sources from quickly saving a snap before it disappears. The age old question arises of whether or not we have any real privacy.
There is no word on whether or not video snaps can be pulled from servers. There is also no indication on what reasons law enforcement would have to lurk on a regular citizen’s Snapchat.
The idea of Snapchat is that pictures and videos disappear seconds after they are opened and never to be seen again.
One student didn’t like the idea of information being released: “To what length would they go? You should still have your privacy. They’re already in our lives enough as it is. Some of that stuff[sent] is private,” said graduating senior, Stephanie DiLuzio. “It’s an app. It’s supposed to be fun.”
“I figured that would happen. That’s how they got Chris Brown,” said Bryan Brigham, senior at Sam Houston State. For those who don’t remember, Chris Brown’s “man parts” her revealed on the internet some years ago. He appeared to be sending a picture via text message.
Snapchat’s update version now includes the “story” feature. This would enable followers to view a snap an unlimited number of times within 24 hours.
Keep all criminal and scandalous activity to a minimum while using Snapchat or any messaging apps. Remember that the feds may or may not be watching.