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Can federal agents check your browser searches without a warrant?
If you regularly use the internet and online services, you’ve probably wondered many times, “is the government watching me through my computer?” The answer isn’t quite as simple as it may seem. Although it is widely believed that law enforcement agencies like the FBI see your search history only when they have a warrant, that’s not strictly true.
The FBI has the power to remotely access a citizen’s computer in certain circumstances, such as when they need to remove malicious software that poses an urgent threat. For instance, it can remotely access corporate machines carrying infections that allow attackers to control them. However, it’s also possible for the FBI to check internet history without a warrant.
The FBI may want to look at your browser history if they suspect that you pose a risk to national security or you are involved in illegal activity. For instance, those who have a record of serious crime, and those who have popped up on the FBI’s radar for sharing or viewing questionable content, may be persons of interest.
In 2016, a judge in Virginia ruled that the government does not require a warrant to hack into a citizen’s computer by exploiting a vulnerability in an online network. As of 2020, it is legal for the US government to access a citizen’s browsing history in every state. Privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation argue against this, but the law has not changed.
The FBI can look at your search history if it has the opportunity, and it will undoubtedly take advantage of that if you are a person of interest. To protect yourself and your data, you can use Safe Browsing by Clario AntiSpy, which boasts features that help keep you safe online. In addition to blocking ads and trackers, it shields you from clicking malicious links.
Clario AntiSpy also includes:
- Anti-malware: Finds hidden malware on your device and helps you remove it
- Anti-tracking: Blocks nasty trackers from following your activities online
- Ad-blocker: Prevents potentially dangerous ads from appearing when you visit websites
- Web security software: Safeguards your online activities to protect you from attackers.
The FBI can hide spyware in online ads and websites. It’s one of many tactics—which also include cell tower spoofing and device hacking—it uses to get the software onto citizens’ computers, allowing the FBI to watch your search history and other activities. While additional protection like AntiSpy may seem unnecessary, it helps prevent you from falling for these tricks.
To protect your online experience from trackers, follow these simple steps:
- Download Clario AntiSpy and get a subscription to create an account
- Click Safe browsing on the left-side menu
3. Install and enable the Clario extension for Chrome and Safari by following the on-screen instructions
4. Once enabled, you can start enjoying safe browsing.
Can the FBI see your search history in Incognito mode?
You might assume you’re immune to the FBI’s monitoring tactics because you browse the web using Incognito mode. However, there is no battle of “the FBI vs. Incognito mode” because Incognito mode cannot protect you from online tracking and malicious software. With that being the case, law enforcement agencies simply don’t need to fight against it.
Incognito mode is a browser feature that stops your browsing activity from being saved to your device. When you're done using it, it automatically deletes your browsing history, cookies, and site data so that others who have access to your computer cannot see it.
The FBI, the government, your internet service provider (ISP), the websites you visit, and even your employer can still see and track your browsing activities when you browse in Incognito mode. Incognito mode can’t protect your data from these organizations. Incognito mode isn’t totally worthless, however.
Suppose you’re trying to hide your activities from those who share your computer. In that case, Incognito mode can be incredibly useful because it stops your history, cookies, and site data from being saved to your device. It means law enforcement and other users cannot view your search history or find any traces of your activities in local files if they gain access to one of your devices.
To bolster your security, it’s recommended that you use the following:
- Incognito mode
- Third-party cybersecurity tools
- Antivirus software
- A VPN.
These protections will shield you from online threats, help you remove any dangerous files that do end up on your machine, and mask your real location to make you more secure.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies can use a wide range of tactics to monitor citizens, which may include remotely accessing computers to analyze search history and online activities. It’s also vital to remember that government monitoring of social media is common. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “does the government spy on us?” Now you know.
Government and law enforcement organizations do not need a warrant to access and track your online data in many instances, so it’s important to take protection into your own hands.
One way to do this is with Clario AntiSpy, which has built-in Safe Browsing tools that not only stop harmful ads and trackers from spying on you but also protect you from visiting malicious websites that spread dangerous malware and spyware.