Cops Track Suspects Using Spotify and Netflix Accounts

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 13, 2015 10:52 AM

Do you think you're being sneaky? Think again. Big Brother is always watching.

In the old days, police tracked debit and credit cards to find the bad guys. Now, that most on the run criminals know not to use their credit cards, the authorities have a new tactic. They're tracking your Spotify and Netflix accounts!

Mother on the Run

In a case of parental kidnapping, Brittany Nunn, of Wellington, Colorado, allegedly abducted her six- and four-year-old daughters, skipping town during a contentious custody dispute with the children's fathers. Nunn and her husband Peter Barr managed to elude authorities for eight months.

The family was finally found in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, after the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, with a warrant, tracked Nunn's IP address through her Spotify and Netflix account. Mexican authorities arrested the couple and deported the whole family back to the United States. Nunn and Barr were arrested in Colorado on charges of violation of custody, and the two girls were placed in their fathers' custody.

Privacy Rights

Are you worried about the government tracking you now? Unless you've committed a crime, you probably don't have to worry. Police need a search warrant to search and track your private accounts.

Warrants

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

To search your home or private information, including your Netflix account, police, generally, must have a warrant. To get a warrant, police must show that they have probable cause. Probable cause exists if the facts currently known to the police give them a reasonable belief that a search will reveal relevant evidence. Ideally, warrants specifically describe what will be searched and what police expect to find.

According to reports, the Sheriff's Office had a warrant to search and track Nunn's Spotify and Netflix accounts, and the courts don't just give out warrants willy-nilly.

Learn from Nunn and Barr's mistake. If you ever do go on the run, leave your credit and debit cards at home and your Spotify and Netflix accounts signed off.

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