Big win for privacy

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that police cannot search one’s cell phone without a warrant. This is a good decision that puts at least some brake on the invasion of privacy by the government.

“Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life.’ ”

These tiny devices “could just as easily be called cameras, video players, Rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers,” he said.

For that reason, the chief justice said the court would not allow police officers who make an arrest to routinely seize and inspect the suspect’s cellphone or smartphone.

This is a very good decision, somewhat surprising in its unanimity given that many of the justices have in the past leaned over backwards to provide police with extra powers.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    I am surprised that Scalia joined this decision. I was sure that once he confirmed that the Constitution makes no mention of whether the Founding Fathers preferred Android or Iphone, that he would conclude that there is no protection for smartphones.

  2. sundoga says

    Not if they want to introduce it as evidence in court, F. The police have always been able to get information in non-legal ways, but if they want a chain of evidence to stand up in court, each step in the chain has to follow the rules – including “the reason we did this search”.

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