U.S. Supreme Court unanimously bans warrantless cell phone searches

“The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights,” Stephen Dinan reports for The Washington Times. “Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.”

“The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights,” Dinan reports. “‘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,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the unanimous court. ‘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.'”

Dinan reports, “Justices even said police cannot check a cellphone’s call log, saying even those contain more information that just phone numbers, and so perusing them is a violation of privacy that can only be justified with a warrant.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The Obama administration and the state of California, defending the cellphone searches, said cellphones should have no greater protection from a search than anything else police find,” The Associated Press reports. “But the defendants in these cases, backed by civil libertarians, librarians and news media groups, argued that cellphones, especially smartphones, are increasingly powerful computers that can store troves of sensitive personal information.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Every bit of sanity is so very welcome!

Kudos to SCOTUS for getting this one right.

Related articles:
As U.S. government discusses expanding digital searches, ACLU sounds caution – April 7, 2014
Apple to government authorities: ‘Show warrant to get data’ – May 9, 2014
Can U.S. police search your iPhone without a warrant? – April 28, 2014
U.S. court ruling opens phones to warrantless searches – March 1, 2012

74 Comments

      1. This is assuming that by doing so they can’t find out information that will lead to other evidence being gathered that would not otherwise be without the illegal search. There needs to be more bite to police violating constitutional rights than exclusion of evidence at trial.

        1. Any and all evidence that would not have been discovered without the illegal search is “the fruit of the poisonous tree”, and would be excluded at trial. This would include something like a search of an otherwise undiscoverable contact’s premises that turned up something like contraband. All of that would be excluded as evidence.

      1. There is something arousing about constitutional law, the almost feral scent of justice wafting through the chamber, knowing glances exchanged in the penultimate encounter, the swishing of the black robes, the exquisite tucks and turns in precedent presented in hypnotic logical splendor, rising in a crescendo of citations and a consummation presented in bold, all-caps, forever terms.

            1. If I’m tweeting out of tune, that may explain why I haven’t had a response from my sister since 2010—my tweets got lost in the ether? I don’t have Facebook either. I closed down my LinkedIn account. I guess social networking appeals to those who are social, which I am not very.

    1. A broken clock does not issue detailed documentation supporting its statement of the current time. Your analogy is broken.

      Please demonstrate the ability to accept a wise and just decision with grace.

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