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A win for privacy: High Court rules against police cell phone snooping | Absolute Rights

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In a ruling that helps restore at least a modicum of constitutional privacy and due process protections in the digital age, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that police must first obtain a search warrant before snooping through suspects’ cell phones.

Police agencies argued that searching through a cell phone was no different than asking someone to empty their pockets, but the high court – unanimously – rejected that, saying a cell phone is fundamentally different.

In writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts found:

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.

Roberts also noted that today’s cell phone technology is capable of keeping a person’s entire life in digital storage – pictures, documents, even medical records and other private materials – which makes it subject to Fourth Amendment protections.

Roberts said cell phones could lay bare someone’s entire personal history, from their medical records to their “specific movements down to the minute.”

The Washington Times further reported:

Complicating matters further is the question of where the data is actually stored. The Obama administration and the state of California, both of which sought to justify cell phone searches, acknowledged that remotely stored data couldn’t be searched — but Chief Justice Roberts said with cloud computing, it’s now sometimes impossible to know the difference.

The high court did carve out an exemption for national security purposes.

This is obviously a win for constitutional conservatives and anyone else who has been concerned about loss of privacy in the digital age. What’s sad is that, again, the Judicial Branch sorted this mess out instead of the Legislative Branch.



story | by Dr. Radut