The recent publicity around use of the Sarbanes-Oxley act to prosecute people who, literally, have cleared their browser cache, is another sign that federal authorities believe that laws entitle them to private data, no matter how it has been generated.

However, the world is now awash in data that is easily created and even more easily destroyed.

Essentially, an obscure point of Sarbanes-Oxley, which was originally intended to target public companies, says that if you believe that at any time you could be targeted for investigation, or that anyone you know could be targeted for investigation for any crime, you could go to jail for an eye-popping 20 years for clearing your browser cache or failing to back up your dying hard drive.

Hands up if you knew this one already? Probably not. As they say, ignorance of the law no excuse, but it seems that we could be put in a position where we would have to prove why we do something everyone does on a regular basis for a wide variety of reasons, including keeping our computers and phones running smoothly.

I understand that investigators believe they may be seeing the start of a time when many communications are beyond their sight, which makes them very nervous about their ability to protect public safety.

However, our phones are collecting, generating and recording multiple types of data about us and our apps are sending it to servers all over the world. These apps have shockingly broad permissions to take sensitive data such as our location, texts, and contacts, transmit them to distant servers or out of the country, store, and yes, even delete them (not to mention how all this activity affects your phone bill). Might we someday have to prove that we didn’t know that an app deleted our data?

It would have been very different if the Boston cabbie who was friends with the Tsarnaev brothers, had burned a notebook: Not many people need to burn notebooks on a regular basis. I’ve never done it. But I cleared my browser cache just last week.

Luckily, I think Google carefully kept all of those records, so I’m good.

Phew. That was close.