Thursday, June 26, 2014

‘Get a warrant’ - Supreme Court rules against cell phone searches in 'big win for digital privacy'

RT | Jun 25, 2014
Win McNamee / Getty Images / AFP

The Supreme Court of the United States said Wednesday that police officers must have a warrant before searching the cell phone contents of an individual under arrest.

In a unanimous ruling announced early Wednesday, the high court settled two cases surrounding instances in which law enforcement officials scoured the mobile phones of suspects in custody and then used information contained therein to pursue further charges.

“The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested,” the Supreme Court ruled.

“Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience,” the court continued. “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. 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.”

Orin Kerr, a Georgetown University law professor who focuses primarily on computer cases, wrote Wednesday morning on his Washington Post-hosted blog that the court’s decision was “a big win for digital privacy.”

“[W]ow, what a day at the Supreme Court,” tweeted Electronic Freedom Foundation special counsel Marcia Hoffman, whose group entered a brief in the case ahead of Wednesday’s ruling. “Wow. You go, Chief Justice Roberts,” she wrote.

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