Can your Google search history be used as evidence in court?
The answer is yes. Together with computer forensics, telephone logs and social media, search histories are now commonly analyzed and interrogated for evidence in trials.
According to Brian McConnachie, a criminal defense lawyer in an interview with the NewStatesman, "One-time searches can be evidentially significant and multiple searches are not required."
This implies that even though a morbid search for certain topics is not a criminal activity in itself, your search history can be used against you if you become a suspect in a crime.
But it's all about timing, according to McConnachie. "It's unlikely that searches from long ago would be used in respect of a recent crime as relevancy would be more difficult to establish," he stated.
Evidence will also rely on concrete proof that a suspect indeed conducted the search. One common strategy for defense lawyers is to claim that the computer is a shared device and search histories can't be necessarily pinned down to a single person. McConnachie also says that suspects can just claim that they were simply curious about a certain topic, hence the search.
Another defense against search histories as evidence? Computer bugs and glitches. If it's proven that faulty technology and software came into play, then the evidence may be dismissed and rendered invalid.
Now before this prompts you to clear your cache and delete your search histories, McConnachie warns that computer forensics can recover deleted files and searches. In fact, he says that clearing your computer tracks may even be more incriminating.
So should you be concerned with each and every search query we do online? If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn't. Just google away your curiosity to your heart's content.