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U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts
The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that police must obtain a warrant to search the cell phone of an individual who has been arrested.
The court said cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest. Because the phones contain so much information, police must get a warrant before looking through them, Chief Justice John Robert said.

The Supreme Court previously had ruled that police could empty a suspect's pockets and examine whatever they find to ensure officers' safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.

The Obama administration and the state of California, defending the cellphone searches, said cellphones should have no greater protection from a search than anything else police find. […]

"Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life," Roberts said. The court's answer to what police must do before searching phones is simple: "Get a warrant," he said.

This is a profound endorsement of digital privacy, all the more encouraging considering the confusion some of the justices displayed in oral arguments in this case about this new era in communications. In the end, they got it, with Chief Justice Roberts writing “The term ‘cell phone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.”

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 08:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos and Good News.

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