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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court bars cell phone searches in arrests

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM

A victory for privacy today from the U.S. Supreme Court. Says USA Today:

Cellphones and smartphones generally cannot be searched by police without a warrant during arrests, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in a major victory for privacy rights.

The court notes this could hamper law enforcement some.

Currently, police can search the person under arrest and whatever physical items are within reach to find weapons and preserve evidence. But the justices noted that vast amounts of sensitive data on modern smartphones raise new privacy concerns that differentiate them from other items.

They said police still can examine "the physical aspects of a phone to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon." But once secured, they said, "data on the phone can endanger no one" and the arrested person will not be able to "delete incriminating data."

This court, USA Today notes, has found no problem in strip searches of detainees, even without reasonable suspicion. Which makes somewhat ironic Chief Justice John Roberts' comment that cellphones "are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy."

Some parts of the anatomy Chief Roberts is OK with exploring. Deeply.


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