Civil and Human Rights

Supreme Court enshrines privacy of smartphones

By Hannah Kuchler in San Francisco

 

US police must obtain a warrant to search a suspect’s smartphone after the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that constitutional privacy protections apply to the often extensive data people keep on the devices in their pockets.

 

In a unanimous ruling praised by privacy campaigners, the court decided that searching a smartphone was more like downloading the contents of a computer than leafing through someone’s address book.

 

The fourth amendment bans “unreasonable searches and seizures” but police are usually allowed to search the personal belongings a suspect is carrying. Lower courts had been divided on whether to ban searches of smartphones without a warrant.

 

 

The Constitutional Accountability Center, which like the EFF filed a brief in the case, said it was a good day for the “Bill of Rights”. Doug Kendall, CAC president, said searching cell phones without a warrant was “even more intrusive” than “similar searches of colonial-era homes, which the Founders fought against in the Revolutionary War”….

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