The Supreme court rules unanimously on cellphone privacy rights. Warrantless cellphone searches are not permitted under the fourth amendment (in most cases).
By Lawrence Hurley (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before they can search the cellphone of an arrested suspect, a major decision in favor of privacy rights at a time of increasing concern over government encroachment in digital communications. In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said there are some emergency situations in which a warrantless search would be permitted. But the unanimous 9-0 ruling goes against law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, which wanted more latitude to search without having to obtain a warrant. ‘We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime,’ Roberts wrote, adding that the right to privacy “comes at a cost.’
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
RILEY v CALIFORNIA
CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT, DIVISION ONE
No. 13–132. Argued April 29, 2014—Decided June 25, 2014*
It is true that this decision will have some impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. But the Court’s holding is not that the information on a cell phone is immune from search; it is that a warrant is generally required before a search. The warrant requirement is an important component of the Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, and warrants may be obtained with increasing efficiency. In addition, although the search incident to arrest exception does not apply to cell phones, the continued availability of the exigent circumstances exception may give law enforcement a justification for a warrantless search in particular cases. Pp. 25–27. No. 13–132, reversed and remanded; No. 13–212, 728 F. 3d 1, affirmed. R OBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which S CALIA, K ENNEDY, T HOMAS, GINSBURG, B REYER, S OTOMAYOR, and K AGAN, JJ., joined. A LITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.