Maine Legal Group Logo
Main Office
Satellite Office
Consultations by Appointment Only

How Police Can See Your Internet History

A person typing in a laptop, we see icons for photos, shopping, usernames, phones, etc. Representing how one can benefit from calling a Portland criminal defense attorney.

One of the biggest ways that law enforcement can get around your Fourth Amendment rights is by gathering evidence without conducting a “search.” If it’s not objectively reasonable for you to assume that something will be kept private, then the police can get it and use it as evidence without having to get a search warrant or prove that the search fell within a warrant exception.

Importantly, if you voluntarily give information or something else that can be used as evidence to a third party, then it’s deemed that you can no longer assume that it will be kept private. Therefore, police can get the material from the third party without implicating your Fourth Amendment rights, because they aren’t conducting a “search.” This is called the third party doctrine, and impacts many of the things you do every day, like taking out your trash, or making a phone call.

What You Do On the Internet Likely Falls Within the Third Party Doctrine

Whenever you’re online and do a Google search, Google takes note of what you search for, as well as where you were, when you searched for it. It’s what allows Google to better predict what you’re going to type into the search bar, and to provide only local results for when you search for “restaurant,” rather than hits for places on the other side of the country.

Additionally, many other websites utilize terms of use that allow them to plant cookies in your browser, letting them see where you’ve been and where you go in the future so they can target you with relevant advertisements. A good example is Every time you shop on Amazon, it tracks not only what you buy, but also what you look at so that it can list recommendations based on what you’ve viewed.

In both of these cases, by simply using the internet, you’re also voluntarily providing information about yourself to a third party. Once you’ve done this, under the third party doctrine, you’ve destroyed the presumption that this information will be kept private. Therefore, police can search and obtain this information as evidence that you’ve committed a crime without implicating your Fourth Amendment rights. Because your rights are not at issue, law enforcement does not need to obtain a warrant, or show that they have probable cause to suspect that a crime has been committed.

Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly

The third party doctrine is one of the largest holes in the Fourth Amendment, as it drastically impacts everyone’s day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how much information police can get about them, simply because they bought something online, or went to a specific website.

The third party doctrine is one of the many tools that police use when they investigate someone for a crime. If you’ve been charged with a crime in the state of Maine, you’ll be up against a well-oiled machine with lots of resources. Your best chance at defending yourself is hiring a quality criminal defense attorney, like William T. Bly. Contact the law office of William T. Bly online, or at (207) 571- 8146.


Contact our office to speak with
one of our team members who will set up a confidential consultation to discuss your case.


Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





Ready to Get Started? Get In Touch With Us Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get to Know Our Group
Maine Legal Group

We are a boutique law firm, and we stand out by prioritizing our clients’ well-being. At The Maine Legal Group, our experienced team offers personalized attention in both criminal defense and divorce cases.

The Maine Criminal Defense Group

The Maine Criminal Defense Group adeptly handles all areas of criminal defense practice, including experienced and skilled legal representation for state and federal charges.

The Maine Divorce Group

The Maine Divorce Group empowers individuals skillfully navigating divorce with compassionate guidance, ensuring a brighter future through the challenges of the process.