The Fourth Amendment gives every U.S. citizen the right to privacy. The government can only invade your home, search your person – or monitor your emails or Internet activity – in certain circumstances. Unless stringent requirements are met, any unwarranted invasion of privacy by police departments or federal agents is unconstitutional and illegal.
However, that does not mean that everything you are doing online is safe. If police or federal agents have met all necessary requirements to monitor your online behavior, you often won’t know they are watching until they knock on your door with a search warrant or an arrest warrant.
When Can The Government Monitor Your Internet Activity?
In general, you do have a right to privacy in your electronic communication, such as your cell phone records and computer files. However, if you store data on computers that are used by the public or on shared hard drives, put information on the Internet, use file sharing programs to share data or network your computer, or transmit data via the Internet, you will lose your right to privacy in that information. This means the government can legally monitor this data.
You May Be Monitored Without Knowing It
Remember, if you are engaging in any of the above activities, the government can monitor your activity. And, if “big brother” is watching, there will be no warning signs.