Supreme Court Rules That Cops Need Warrants Cell Phone Searches

June 25, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

After several high profile cases in which defendants were arrested based on information found on their cell phones, the Supreme Court has ruled that police officers must obtain a warrant in order to search the mobile devices. Justice John Roberts said in his ruling:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life.  The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.

This decision is a step forward for the law recognizing that smartphones are not merely phones, and can contain vast amounts of information. As Roberts put it, smartphones “could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.” This ruling is a positive sign for anyone concerned with the rise of surveillance, potentially leading to other progressive rulings regarding technology and privacy. (Photo: @jiheffe)