The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that police need a search warrant to search an arrested person’s cell phone except in extreme emergency, such as immediate terrorist activity.
This makes modern technology subject to the same original privacy rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment for protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The ruling was unanimous.
Cell phones really can become a condensation of one’s entire life.
The information can include banking information, texts, pictures, social media, and anything else one chooses to put on their phone.
“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,” Supreme Court Chief John Roberts wrote. “Opposition to such searches was in fact one of the driving forces behind the Revolution itself.”
Officers are allowed to look at the phone externally to make sure it will not be used as a weapon.
Indeed, the justices are keeping up with technology and upholding the Constitution.
In the past, officer’s would have to obtain a search warrant to find banking information at a suspect’s home or find phone records.
Although this law increases the rights of individuals, it will impede law enforcement, and for the most sophisticated criminal, remote wiping and encryption of data.
The decision was upon two convictions where evidence was seized from cell phones. One, involved a gang-related shooting, and another involved a man selling cocaine.
But, Roberts added, “Privacy comes at a cost.”
Karen La Pierre