You should know your rights in front of the police

Even if you live a squeaky clean life, you may find yourself facing the law one day. Maybe you’re going a little too fast down the highway, or someone connected to you got in a shuffle with the law. Before you think that could never happen to you, imagine traveling to another country with a laptop or smartphone or ereader. There’s a good chance you’ll do that. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to know what your rights are when face to face with law enforcement, especially when your digital devices are involved. These rights vary by country and even within a country, so it’s always a good idea to do the research for your jurisdiction before you find yourself in this situation.

For those in the United States, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a list of your rights in various situations you might find yourself in with the police. This is a good list of situations to look through, even for those in other countries, just to get an idea of what scenarios to look up. Of course, some of these rights vary by state and some are still being fought out in court, but those exceptions aside, this is a good list of scenarios to know about. There’s also a quiz at the end to test your newfound knowledge. I got 7/8 correct after one quick reading, and the correct answer to that one was maybe. A little research shows that my answer was the correct one for my state.

The short version for the U.S.: Remain silent, check for a warrant, and don’t divulge any unneeded information. Request to speak with a lawyer first if needed. All of this goes out the window if you’re at a border, but you probably have more to worry about then, especially if you’re choosing between a pornoscanner and getting to second base with a TSA employee. Some of this general advice probably goes for other countries as well, but your legal system obviously varies, so do your research.

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