Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Supremes Rule Against Police Cell Phone Searches

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that police can not search data on a cell phone without a warrant, even if you have been arrested.

From the decision:
Before cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and generally constituted only a narrow intrusion on privacy. But cell phones can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures or hundreds of videos. This has several interrelated privacy consequences...It is true that this decision will have some impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. But the Court’s holding is not that the information on a cellphone is immune from search; it is that a warrant is generally required before a search.
I would have liked to have see a ruling that prevents any searches, but this is a step in the right direction.

The opinion reverses the decision of the California appellate court in Riley v. California.

Also of note, the justicies ruled that police may examine a phone’s physical aspects to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon.

-RW