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HOLMBERG: Reading your phone is like mind reading, SCOTUS says ‘No way’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that police may not search the cell phones of criminal suspects upon arrest without a warrant — a sweeping endorsement for privacy rights.

By a 9-0 vote, the justices said smart phones and other electronic devices were not in the same category as wallets, briefcases, and vehicles — all currently subject to limited initial examination by law enforcement.

Generally such searches are permitted if there is “probable cause” that a crime has been committed, to ensure officers’ safety and prevent destruction of evidence.

Criminal suspects in Massachusetts and California were separately convicted, in part, after phone numbers, text messages, photos and addresses obtained from personal electronic devices linked them to drug and gang activity.

Those cases were appealed to the high court, giving it an opportunity to re-enter the public debate over the limits of Americans’ privacy rights, with a focus on the ubiquitous cellphone and its vast storage of information and video.

These appeals were not related to the recent mass surveillance of phone metadata by the National Security Agency, which has raised similar constitutional concerns.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” the ruling said. “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

8 comments

  • Ron Melancon

    What this ruling does everybody is they cannot pull you over for texting. It makes the law our lawmakers got pushed through useless. They cannot search your phone if they think you were texting.

  • Daniel Beasley

    If you are arrested for anything they can still take your phone from you while they wait for the court order, so I delete every message as soon as I send it. Not that I think im going to be arrested for anything. its kind of the same thing with GPS tracking.

  • Daniel Beasley

    If you are arrested for anything, they can still take your phone until they get the court order. Same type of thing on GPS.

  • jim

    It’s about time the Courts stopped these illegal searchs of peoples phones. The are a few more 4th Amendment issues that still need to be fixed.

  • Not Ron nomeloncon

    As one that responds to emergencies, there goes the ICE (in case of emergency) contact you put in your phone. It saddens us that we can no longer notify next of kin or even an immediate family member in an emergency where you are incapacitated. It’s not all about an invasion of your privacy.

    • mbaker9105

      “It saddens us that we can no longer notify next of kin or even an immediate family member”…..Not true….People can carry an emergency POC card like the “old days”. Don’t act like cell phones have been around forever. If they don’t have one, that’s THEIR choice. Or require it on drivers licenses if you have one…..it’s not the particular situation, it’s the overall right. If I’m hurt at home you don’t have the right WITHOUT MY PERMISSION to rifle through my file cabinet, regardless of intention.

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