Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oakland Editorial Criticizes California Cell Phone Decision

An editorial in the Oakland Tribune is very critical of the recent California Supreme Court decision permitting the search of the contents of a cell phone incident to arrest.

The key lines:

The court did not seem to understand the difference between a smart phone and an article of clothing or other objects on or near an arrested suspect. Smart phones are quite different. They are minicomputers that hold vast amounts of information and have direct access to home computers. In effect, a smart phone can be a mobile office that contains private personal information that should not be subject to search and seizure without a warrant. Allowing police to seize and search the cell phones of anyone they arrest on the spot without a warrant flies in the face of the purpose of the Fourth Amendment. Anyone can be arrested on suspicions of even a minor offense. If that is all that is required for a police officer to search someone's personal records, including business documents, e-mails and photos, without a warrant, it is reasonable to expect considerable abuse of privacy.

The editorial goes on to praise the Ohio decision holding the opposite. My take and more links here.


1 comment:

  1. This is a very unsettling ruling, and seems to be borne more of a fundamental misunderstanding of how the technology works, than by a desire to give police unprecedented power to peer into our personal lives.

    I don't think the justices understand that a modern cellphone is really no different from a personal computer: chances are good that your smartphone stores, or has access to, virtually every piece of personal information that an investigator or identity thief might want.