The Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that police may not search the cell phones of people they arrest without a warrant. The decision centered around two cases where police officers arrested suspects. The officers then later searched through their cell phones to find additional evidence.
Police officers generally need a warrant to search a person or their property. But, there are several exceptions to this rule. For example, officers can search the area in a suspect’s immediate control after arrest. Here, the officers argued this included the suspects’ cell phones.
The Supreme Court disagreed. It focused in part on the fact that searching a person’s cell phone—including data stored in the cloud—was much more intrusive than searching the area immediately around them. This decision is likely to significantly impact data privacy issues in a number of different areas.
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