If you've ever wondered if, when you get into trouble, cops can just run up in your smartphone and start looking at your pictures, and emails and stuff then you can thank the Supreme Court for helping to protect your rights.
The court ruled unanimously today that cops cannot search your phone after they stop you. In most cases, they'll need a warrant.
Here's a summation from the court:
Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. 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.
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"I think it's a good ruling, not only for defense attorneys, but for individuals, or as a society. It protects individuals from police intrusion," Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor and now Houston defense attorney said.
"Previously, I think it was normal course of conduct for the police to review cell phones without a warrant for individuals that may have been stopped in a traffic search. The police may have used cell phone data after a traffic stop without a warrant," Hilder explained.
The high court recognized a cell phone is more than a phone. As Hilder points out, "The court recognizes that the information on a cell phone acts as personal diary, a library of recordings, it has a a lot of personal information on there."
Of course none of this stops police from taking the cell phone and holding it until they get a warrant, so best thing is to keep your nose clean.