I Fought the Law
Police must always obtain a warrant to search an arrestee’s cellphone, the Supreme Court ruled today in a unanimous decision.
Today’s cell phones are more than just tools to make calls, the judges recognized. Modern Americans store their entire lives on their phones, from banking information and health data to private conversations and, obviously, sexts. All that stuff deserves constitutional privacy protection, SCOTUS decided.
Anyone who’s heard Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia try to figure out text messaging (“I thought, you know, you push a button; it goes right to the other thing” is an actual quote) probably has an inkling of how hard it is to reconcile the law with constantly-evolving technologies. Over the past few years, one particular issue has plagued the courts: Does the government need a warrant to access a cellphone user’s location records?
While some courts ruled that the mere act of turning on one’s cellphone implies that they’re “voluntarily” transmitting their location to their cellphone provider and waiving the expectation of privacy, Ars Technica reports that in the Eastern District of New York, Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued a 22-opinion yesterday saying otherwise.