Monday, March 7, 2011

More on Court Ruling That Cell Phones are Computers

A quick follow-up to the previous post.

A blog post in New Scientist asks, “Just where is the boundary line between a computer and a cellphone? Does one even exist?”

The post considers the open issue of the ability of police to search cell phones without a warrant, noting:

[A] ruling [allowing a warrantless search] angered many in the US: in crimes in which the accused is carrying their cellphone in their pocket, was it really fair that all the data that is accessible via the cloud - texts, documents and emails - now be seized without warning? Cellphones are now so advanced that official access to one provides the authorities with almost the same level of insight into one's life as the seizure of a home computer. Whatever happened to the Fourth Amendment?
The post notes the conflict between rulings that phones can be search because they are not computers, and court rulings that cell phones are computers for sentencing purposes:  “The police in the US need a warrant to search a suspect's personal home computer, protected, as it is, by the Fourth Amendment. If your cellphone, and all it contains, is now officially a computer can this now be used as a defense to prevent the authorities seizing it when they carry out a search?”

This is the big question. 

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