Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Cellphones Handhelds Privacy

Police Can Search Cell Phones Without Warrants 438

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-like-opening-a-wallet dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The California Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 2 to allow police to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody. Under US Supreme Court precedents, 'this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body... but also to open and examine what they find,' the state court said. The dissenting justices said those rulings shouldn't be extended to modern cell phones that can store huge amounts of data and that the decision allows police 'to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee's person.' Interestingly enough, the Ohio Supreme Court reached an opposite conclusion in a December 2009 ruling that police had violated drug defendants' rights by searching their cell phones after their arrests. The Ohio-California split could prompt the US Supreme Court to take up the issue, says California Deputy Attorney General Victoria Wilson, who represented the prosecution in the case."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Police Can Search Cell Phones Without Warrants

Comments Filter:
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:17AM (#34752894)
    Glad I use an iPhone and it's really a computer.
    • Cops don't know the difference. They might even say "Well that iPad is LIKE a phone," and justify scanning it for porn or whatever else they want to nail you with.

    • by Thing 1 (178996) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:52AM (#34753170) Journal
      "At first they came for the druggies, but I" -- oh wait.
      • by TheCarp (96830)

        lol Quite apt though....

        Using drug cases as an excuse to pry further and further into peoples personal lives is... pretty typical. When the war is on human appetite, the fight must naturally extend to all places where people feed those appetites.

        Now, if they can search an arrestee's phone, and that phone is connected to the internet, does that mean, they can.... search the internet too?!!

        -Steve

      • by conspirator57 (1123519) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:05AM (#34753926)

        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

        But hey, the democrats think it's just a piece of paper and the republicans think it's a suicide pact.

        i think that long term, our society's abandonment of the constitution is the real suicide pact.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)

      Glad I use an iPhone. My first call will be to my wife to remotely wipe the phone and then call a lawyer.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        My first call will be to my wife to remotely wipe the phone and then call a lawyer.

        If it's not a jailbroken iPhone, how do you know the "wipe" is really a wipe?

        • by Amouth (879122)

          Well using the remote wipe via exchange does just that.

          unless you are going sarcasm because it is a walled garden, if so you for got your tags.

      • by partofthepuzzle (1707364) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:01AM (#34753888)

        I'm glad to see that it seems that haven't been arrested.

        If you had, you would find out that in almost every circumstance, you will NOT be allowed to make a call using your own phone. There may be exceptions if it's a very minor situation or the rare compassionate cop, but I would NOT count on it. Your phone WILL be confiscated and inventoried, along with all of your other belongings, and you will NOT get to see it again at all, until you are released.

        BTW, this has implications beyond the possibility of your phone being searched. How many important phone numbers do you have memorized these days? Maybe 2 or 3 "important" numbers? What if those folks don't answer? In most urban holding cells (where you'll spend up to 24 hrs when you're first arrested, before going to other areas of the jail), there's a phone that everyone can use to make as many free calls as you would like. The catch is that the calls are usually limited to the city or county limits. If the numbers you have memorized are outside the calling area you are SOL. Oh yeah, they always have the bail bond numbers posted by the phone, so you could get out in a few hours on your own, IF you have a few thousand bucks to spare (most cities have drastically increased minimum bail amounts in recent years and it's very common to find even minor, non-violent, misdemeanor crimes with bail in the $10-$30k territory = $1-$3k for bond, which is $ you will never see again).

        My advice: memorize a dozen or so cell phone and landline numbers that you will want to call in any emergency (believe it or not, there are some jail phone systems where you can only leave messages on landlines!). If you are stopped in your vehicle, try to make a call ASAP, before you may be asked to get out of your car and before there is any chance of being arrested and the cops taking your phone. Write important numbers on your hand or arm if needed. If you're taken into custody, you will most likely have to change into jail clothes and you'll lose access to any paper you had in your pocket, etc.

        Last, if you're thinking that as a 1000% law abiding citizen, that none of this could happen to you, think again and bear in mind that guilt is NOT criteria that determines one's vulnerability to arrest and the even the most innocent citizen could possibly find themselves in a situation where they are arrested.

    • Oblig xkcd (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 2names (531755) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @10:39AM (#34753648)
  • Passwords (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HaloZero (610207) <protodeka.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:19AM (#34752910) Homepage
    What if my device is password protected? Can I be compelled to hand over the password? Because I won't.

    If I cannot be compelled to hand over encryption keys for other forms of media, I'm not giving up a password to my mobile device, either.

    At the same time, if they elect to seize and search my backpack, which is also locked, they have the option of breaking the lock to gain access to the contents. But is that legal? At that point, you're also destroying my property in the process.

    Are these 'law enforcement officials' permitted to install software on devices in the course of conducting a 'search'?

    Sticky.
    • Re:Passwords (Score:5, Insightful)

      by joh (27088) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:31AM (#34753008)

      What if my device is password protected? Can I be compelled to hand over the password? Because I won't.
       

      What do they need the password for? They don't want to use the thing, they want the data. As long as you don't have your data encrypted having the device is more than enough for them, no password needed.

      • What do they need the password for? They don't want to use the thing, they want the data. As long as you don't have your data encrypted having the device is more than enough for them, no password needed.

        Phones are getting more and more powerful. For some devices, such as the Nokia N900, it is indeed within reach to encrypt critical information. However, this obviously needs to be balanced against convenience. If you've set it up such that you need to re-enter the password on its tiny keyboard for each access (sending an SMS to one of your contacts in your address book, connecting to a Wifi, ...) it's way inconvenient. If, on the other hand, you set it up to cache the encryption password, it will be useless

      • Unlike computers, where encryption is a fairly recent addition(obviously, computers have been capable of encryption for longer than cell phones have existed; but the idea that somebody's home directory is going to be encrypted and unusable with any degree of frequency is quite new, and still probably isn't true most of the time), the cellphones that do security at all often do it fairly well.

        Particularly now that RIM has started selling cut-price blackberries to all and sundry to make up for their fall f
        • Re:Passwords (Score:5, Insightful)

          by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:51AM (#34753162)
          Even if it is backdoored, it probably isn't going to hurt you. If there is a secret backdoor in blackberries, AES encryption, etc, then the government isn't going to piss away that secret in order to bust some drug dealer or guy trading child porn. A backdoor like that would only be used in cases where you wanted to keep its existance secret, such a national security / espionage operations.
          • Most likely true. A good backdoor is a terrible thing to waste.

            The only hypothetical concern(more likely with modestly high value suspects) would be backdoor + plausible cover story: ie. 1. Use backdoor to break system. 2. Tell media that we A)cleverly analyzed keyboard wear patterns with our science microscopes, all very technical... B)Built a customized password database based on an analysis of the subject's background and psychologically likely password sources. All very sophisticated, you understand.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          but the only thing a random beat cop is going to be able to do about it is either intimidate/beat you into divulging the passcode

          Sometimes, the simplest ways are the most effective.

          Who wants to do all the paperwork?

          But all this talk about encrypted cell phones makes me realize just how pedestrian my life really is. The most interesting thing on my cell phone (to me) is the text from my wife saying that our daughter is staying over at a friend's tonight. Mostly, it's all "Pick up milk" or "Will be late".

          • Re:Passwords (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Idarubicin (579475) <(allsquiet) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:20AM (#34754056) Journal

            But all this talk about encrypted cell phones makes me realize just how pedestrian my life really is. The most interesting thing on my cell phone (to me) is the text from my wife saying that our daughter is staying over at a friend's tonight. Mostly, it's all "Pick up milk" or "Will be late". Maybe an occasional "I'll take the Bears and the points" which isn't going to get me in too much trouble, because here in Chicago the cop is probably taking the Bears and the points too, with the same bookie.

            Actually, if the police wanted to nail you, your 'pedestrian' it's-only-a-little-bit-illegal gambling message is quite sufficient. It doesn't matter that the cop also gambles, just like it doesn't matter that he rolls through stop signs, or speeds on the highway, or sometimes smokes a joint with his buddies. Selective, infrequent enforcement of widely-committed acts is one of the most powerful tools the police have; it enables nearly arbitrary detention and harassment of virtually anyone, and those laws are unlikely to be a priority to ever come off the books because (through limited enforcement) they affect so few people directly. "But wait!", you say, "Surely I'm not a suspect, so I have nothing to worry about!" I wish you the best of luck playing those odds. It's a gamble that most of us would probably win -- but it works out breathtakingly badly for those who lose.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      At the same time, if they elect to seize and search my backpack, which is also locked, they have the option of breaking the lock to gain access to the contents. But is that legal?

      Yep, once you're arrested.

      I was concerned when I read the sensationalist headline, but they can only search your phone after you've been arrested. Not really much difference between a phone and a wallet, except for amount of data.

      I seriously doubt they could get away with installing software on your phone, even after they arrest yo

      • I seriously doubt they could get away with installing software on your phone, even after they arrest you.

        With a warrant they could. Have you ever seen a suspected drug house after the police end a search? They can go to town on the walls with sledge hammers. Sure, you can sue them later, but even if they don't find drugs, it's unlikely that you'll get anywhere if it seems like they had probable cause to think there would be drugs there.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        Well, since people can be arrested for the sole crime of "resisting arrest" (and they say cops are dumb!), I would say nobody's phone is safe on their person in CA.
    • Re:Passwords (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hoplite3 (671379) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:43AM (#34753100)

      You can be compelled to hand over a password, but it requires a court order. However, in the case of having your phone taken when you are arrested, the police don't need your password to see your data if it is unencrypted. They'll just read the phone memory with another device.

      Generally, it's easy for the police to seize your property, relatively risk-free for them to damage it, and difficult for you to get it back in a timely fashion.

      You can thank the drug war.

      • Re:Passwords (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:52AM (#34753164) Journal

        It's probably a bad idea to put a lot of information into a cellphone anyway. It's too easy to lose, or get pickpocketed. I'd rather keep my information secure in my house and only use the phone's storage sparingly (or not at all).

        BTW in the UK refusal to provide a password or passkey to decode an encrypted device is punishable with several years in jail. You have no right to remain silent in the UK, and it's beginning to look like the US is headed down the same path.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      I know you will give up your password. All it will take is a pistol whipping and you will be giving the cops every password you know.

      Nothing like being smashed in the face with a pistol and tazed in the groin over and over to get you ro willingly give up your passwords.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:21AM (#34752916)
    It won't be long before we see another court case concerning a defendant's right not to disclose his whole disk encryption passphrase.
  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:23AM (#34752936)
    I am governor Jerry Brown.
    My aura smiles
    and never frowns...
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Yep, when all the Californians were gleefully cheering Jerry Brown for re-entering the fold, I was singing California Uber Alles daily, without prompting. Now he is here. You'll look nice in a drawstring bag...

      • I can't wait for the suede denim secret police, since after all my niece is pretty uncool.
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:23AM (#34752944)
    If I'm arrested (not convicted, nor even charged), you don't get to perform a random search on my house without my consent. Why is a small, handheld electronic device any different?

    Just because it happens to be able to make phone calls?
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:29AM (#34752982)
      The difference is that it happens to be on your person at the time of your arrest, and you lose the constitutional right to privacy when you are arrested. I suppose the original idea was that the police would be able to search your bag for weapons, or something like that, and it has (like so many others) been blown way out of proportion.
      • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:36AM (#34753052) Homepage Journal

        The difference is that it happens to be on your person at the time of your arrest, and you lose the constitutional right to privacy when you are arrested. I suppose the original idea was that the police would be able to search your bag for weapons, or something like that, and it has (like so many others) been blown way out of proportion.

        No, not entirely accurate.

        That's not the difference when it comes to smartphones (regular cell phones or semi-smart phones, yeah. If someone had my Android phone, they'd have full and free access to my gMail account, PayPal account, online photo albums, social networking accounts, address book (including the non phone portion such as Google Contacts) and so much more. And for many of my friends, it would also be unrestricted access to their home and/or work computer.

        Therein lies the problem with this ruling (unless the court decided to differentiate between "dumbphones" and "smartphones" - but as I've already read one linked article (albeit for a different /. post), I've already done my quota of RTFA and don't know if he made that distinction. I'll just assume he didn't, as I believe policy is here....

        THUS... this is a big problem and a big privacy violation for the millions of people who have smartphones.

        • That was exactly my concern. My question when I read the article was if "searching my phone" meant looking at just the data physically stored on my phone or looking at all the data my phone has access to. This wasn't really clarified in the article.

          The case in question focused on evidence that police collected by looking through a suspects stored text messages. So a responsible and limited application of this ruling would be to just limit such searches to data immediately available on the phone. But I s

          • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:55AM (#34753210) Homepage Journal

            ...So a responsible and limited application of this ruling would be to just limit such searches to data immediately available on the phone. But I suspect that police will not really respect the distinction.

            Even if they understand such a distinction (if one ever enters into ruling/precedent/law), nowadays, it's getting harder to differentiate between the two, with so many services and apps that blur the line between locally stored stuff and stuff stored in the cloud. Making the situation worse is that some of the normally locally stored stuff nowadays is often stored in the cloud (like my contacts).

            And even with the most sensible of laws/precedents/etc on this, I still would not trust the police to understand how to properly implement such searches in a way that does not violate such laws - not necessarily through bad intent on their part, but due to a lack of understanding of how the technology works, and how that relates to application of the law.

            • Even if they understand such a distinction (if one ever enters into ruling/precedent/law), nowadays, it's getting harder to differentiate between the two, with so many services and apps that blur the line between locally stored stuff and stuff stored in the cloud. Making the situation worse is that some of the normally locally stored stuff nowadays is often stored in the cloud (like my contacts).

              In which case, your defense lawyer could try arguing that the police obtained the evidence illegally by connecting to a server they did not have a warrant to search. It is no different than the police using your house keys to enter your home while you are under arrest. (A competent prosecutor may, however, argue that it is better described as the police reading a pocket notebook and learning a secret phrase that must be spoken for an undercover agent to engage a drug dealer; I am sure that, in the wake

              • Even if they understand such a distinction (if one ever enters into ruling/precedent/law), nowadays, it's getting harder to differentiate between the two, with so many services and apps that blur the line between locally stored stuff and stuff stored in the cloud. Making the situation worse is that some of the normally locally stored stuff nowadays is often stored in the cloud (like my contacts).

                In which case, your defense lawyer could try arguing that the police obtained the evidence illegally by connecting to a server they did not have a warrant to search.

                IF you can afford a defense lawyer who knows technology well enough, and IF you have a judge that would understand what the hell he's talking about. It's not like the DA is going to just roll over and say "Yeah, we made a mistake... he's right".

                Stop thinking we live in a perfect world.

                • The reality is that everybody plea bargains. The percentage of cases in which arguments even occur (let alone arguments about constitutionality) is such a tiny minority as to be negligible. Mostly, the accusation leads immediately to a plea bargain which is 1/100th of the maximum penalty (or more, but in proportion to the arrest record of the accused and without regard to the accusation) and is immediately accepted. Neither attorney needs to become familiar with the case.
        • maybe I do NOT want to carry or even own one of these 'privacy invitation boxes', then.

          the cellphone companies better stand up and FIGHT THIS or they may see people STOP carrying/buying these.

          this chilling effect surely made me think twice about putting my personal info on any kind of phone, smart or otherwise.

          to keep things private in today's world, you just have to NOT have them on any form of media that the 'law enforcement' (choke, cough) folks could get at.

          just like you have to have a child-proof home

          • you haven't heard about this thing called facebook have you? this won't stop any significant number of people from carrying cellphones.

            The only people worried about privacy are IT nuts such as on this site (me included)

            cell phone companies really will just continue going on with business as normal.

          • by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:33AM (#34754190) Homepage

            the cellphone companies better stand up and FIGHT THIS or they may see people STOP carrying/buying these.

            You mean the way people boycotted the telcos when NSA wiretapped the telephone networks with neither warrant nor probable cause*? Or perhaps you mean the way the mass majority of the flying public stopped flying when TSA got a little too draconian with airport searches**?

            Look, I agree with your sentiment -- I really do -- but I have become convinced that the erstwhile "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" has become the Land of Blindly Following Authority. The USA has become so complacent recently that we, as a nation, will do whatever we are told without question until it's too late. You and I may already be looking around wondering just exactly how we got here, but that question is not even on Joe and Jane Sixpack's radar yet.

            * Yes, I boycotted AT&T in the wake of the NSA wiretapping. It's one reason I bought an Android (my local carriers, AFAIK, did not participate in the wiretapping) over an iPhone.

            ** Yes, I have boycotted flying as much as I possibly can -- I have elected not to take three personal trips this year, although there is one business flight that I will be taking (fortunately, neither the arrival nor departure airports have AIT scanners, or I would have told my boss he's going solo on this trip) -- and have encouraged my friends to do likewise. I have even got taken to task by one friend [blogspot.com] over my proselytizing (warning: shameless plug to my personal blog).

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:52AM (#34753176)
          I did not say that I agreed with the ruling, I just gave my understanding of it. As far as I can tell, the judges are equating a cell phone with a pocket notebook -- the police can look through a pocket notebook, so why not cell phones and other electronics as well?

          As for the level of access your cell phone might give them...that is, frankly, irrelevant. First of all, the police cannot arrest you, and then use your housekeys to enter your home and perform a warrantless search of your house, so I doubt that a court would allow the police to use passwords stored on your smartphone to access computers in your home (from TFA, it appears that the case in question involved the police viewing a text message stored on the arrested person's phone). As for the data stored on online services, the police could search that without even informing you of the search, and may even be able to look through it without a warrant. There is no good distinguishing characteristic of "smart phones" that could be used to differentiate them from "dumb phones" -- all modern cell phones are mobile computers, some are just less restricted than others.
          • I did not say that I agreed with the ruling, I just gave my understanding of it. As far as I can tell, the judges are equating a cell phone with a pocket notebook -- the police can look through a pocket notebook, so why not cell phones and other electronics as well?

            I never said you did - you just forgot other implications. A phone is no longer a phone

            As for the level of access your cell phone might give them...that is, frankly, irrelevant. First of all, the police cannot arrest you, and then use your housekeys to enter your home and perform a warrantless search of your house, so I doubt that a court would allow the police to use passwords stored on your smartphone to access computers in your home (from TFA, it appears that the case in question involved the police viewing a text message stored on the arrested person's phone).

            Why would they have to do that? You have to remember, it's all really simply clicking on an app button. That's it. End of story. No looking for passwords or hunting for a computer or whatever. Just click an app.

            And again, this has nothing to do with what the police did in THIS case, but EVERYTHING to do with what this ruling will allow them to do in future cases.

            As for the data stored on online services, the police could search that without even informing you of the search, and may even be able to look through it without a warrant.

            And then use it or not? This is where this ruling ma

        • That's why it should be illegal to do it without a warrant.

          Police officers can and will use anything and everything they find whether it matters or not, and stuff that doesn't matter will probably get you sentenced.

          There's reasons why you shouldn't talk to police, and there's reasons why they shouldn't get free use of your phone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc [youtube.com] - it's long, but worth it.

    • Because the court says so. Not a good reason, but the real one. I'm sure if you searched way down to the court transcripts you could find the arguments made by the lawyers for the officers. Oh and they can search your house, they just have to have to properly justify it afterward. Perhaps they would argue that weapons or dangerous chemicals could have been present.

      Of course some disagree
      Not ok
      http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2007/may/31/search_and_seizure_california_fe [stopthedrugwar.org]
      Sure, ok
      http://news.cnet.com/Police- [cnet.com]

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      How is Diana Ross going to help?

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:24AM (#34752950)
    Monday's ruling upheld the drug conviction of Gregory Diaz, arrested in April 2007 by Ventura County sheriff's deputies who said they had seen him taking part in a drug deal. An officer took a cell phone from Diaz's pocket, looked at the text message folder 90 minutes later, and found a message that linked Diaz to the sale, the court said. Diaz pleaded guilty, was placed on probation and appealed the search.

    WHEW! I feel SO much safer now that these low-level drug dealers are getting arrested and searched. I can now walk the streets safely knowing that these minor crimes are being prosecuted with probation sentences and bonus cell-phone searches.
    I think we should just randomly pull poor people over and search everything they have including their cell phones and hopefully we can find SOMETHING to bust these criminals with!
    • Why don't they take this one step further and start scanning records from the wireless carrier? This way they don't get up from their desk until they absolutely have to.
      • *cough*"Quantico circuit"*cough*...
      • They already do this. All it takes is a warrant from a judge to get the records.
        • uhhhh..... hate to break this to you, but they don't even need that anymore [slashdot.org]. Remember that thing with Mark Klein where he blew the whistle about the NSA doing wholesale wiretapping at AT&T? How all the big telcoms (except Qwest) were doing likewise? Remember that thing where Bush pushed to give them retroactive immunity? Remember the "compromise" that candidate Obama helped pass that gave them immunity only if they could get a hand-written permission directly from the president?

          Did you forget all of
      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:58AM (#34753236) Journal

        >>>Why don't they take this one step further and start scanning records from the wireless carrier?

        They can. Read the recently-passed Financial Reform bill which gives police new powers to obtain records/user logs from any US-ISP and not need a warrant for either the user, or the company. They can just walk-in, take what they want, and walk out. They also have this same power with banks.

        Thank you Democrat Congress of 2007-2010. Thank you Republicans for cooperating. Thank you for reaffirming that you are in fact ONE party, merely with different divisions.

      • Uh they already do that...A LOT...

    • Here's what a German pastor said after he was released from a Nazi jail cell:

      "It was the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists [and drug dealers]. Who cared about them? ..... Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: 'Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others.' ..... The persecution of the J

  • It becomes all too easy to track down a suspect and wait until he's moving his laptop around to arrest him then and search his computer without that pesky warrant procedure.
    • Correct.
      And when I tell people I refused to let the TX Homeland Security search my car's trunk, they think I'm wacko. No. I am trying to stop the inexorable march towards the society described in 1984. Never, ever, never consent to a search of your car, your home, your laptop, or your person/papers/effects. "No warrant; No search." - ACLU of DC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLpSY8d3gRc [youtube.com]

      Also worthy of watching is the "Don't Talk To Police" video uploaded by a law professor and a Virginia cop. A lot of

  • What if you store everything on the net? Do the police know where the line stops, and only search the phone? Can they go on to rummage through your Facebook/LinkedIn/Exchange data?

    This, of course, assumes you do everything online and you don't keep replicated synced copies on your phone.

    • Re:Online services (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:36AM (#34753046)

      What if you store everything on the net?

      Then you forfeit your rights whether or not you are arrested.

      • by plover (150551) *

        This.

        That's the problem with whining about the insignificant amount of data on your phone. It still hides the real problem, which is that you willingly gave the data to random third parties who promised to make your life better by "connecting you with friends" or "sharing your thoughts".

        Where it gets interesting is if your phone has a gateway back to your own personal systems. Can the police traverse the link back to your house, and start reading what's on your hard disk via the phone? They may not even

    • by gmuslera (3436)

      That makes it easier for them, not harder. Happened a lot of times that courts ordered Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or others to disclose user data. And not just in the US.

      If you want to have really private info with you, better you have an app that encrypt it in a safe way.

  • by whoda (569082) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:38AM (#34753062) Homepage
    What happens when they use the phone to log into email and facebook accounts to retrieve information that is NOT in the phone?
    The police can't go enter your house just because they found the key in your pocket when you were arrested, they need a separate warrant to do that.
    • I suspect that that will be a new case. This was a case about searching text messages stroed on the phone in question. As such the ruling is reasonable, under previous Supreme Court rulings, if you were carrying an address book or a bunch of letters at the time of arrest the police could search those. This is a logical extension of that ruling. It is a separate debate as to whether that Supreme Court ruling was a good one or not.
      The problem with this ruling is that the judges do not appear to have limited
  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:40AM (#34753080) Homepage

    ...then they shouldn't have gotten arrested.

    • by paramour (110003)

      Is that you, Eric Schmidt?

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      "All suspects are guilty. Period. Otherwise, they wouldn't be suspect!"

      That's also why I was wondering about why it at all matters what the defendants are charged with. Your constitutional rights don't change based on what you're accused of (although it can make a difference regarding whether those rights are violated, e.g. terrorism accusations).

  • Of course, not owning a smartphone could become probably cause for a search warrant some day, since you must obviously have something to hide.

  • They were jealous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:47AM (#34753132)

    of what the TSA was able to do.

    You know some of the rights you still have? Enjoy them while they last. They WILL be taken away from you. And for those who tell you to contact your representatives or vote differently: those are the exact same people who voted for this.

    What is needed is actual use of the 2nd amendment and trow all politicians out and start over. The first time it worked. The government was disliked and was thrown out.

    I know it won't happen. Not until it is too late. It has happened before (also in other countries) and it will happen again (also in the USofA).

    • You might cut off a few of the Hydra's heads, but more will simply grow in their place. You're looking at the politicians as the source of the problem, when the real problem is systemic. It's the structure of government, and in particular, its relationship to corporate powers, that causes the erosion of civil liberties, not the individual actors themselves--who are merely doing what is in their own best interest. Armed revolution may bring down the actors, but failing to address the flaws in the system w

  • Obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:47AM (#34753138) Journal

    The judges that ruled in favor were not considering that when a person is taken into custody searched and examined, it is not for personal information, rather the safety for the officers and the accountability of returning and cataloging the property.

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Obviously an immediate arrest is slightly different, but I would say after the arrest they could get a warrant. It wouldn't be impossible and actually quite easy.

    • Re:Obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by srmalloy (263556) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @10:40AM (#34753652) Homepage

      The judges that ruled in favor were not considering that when a person is taken into custody searched and examined, it is not for personal information, rather the safety for the officers and the accountability of returning and cataloging the property

      Actually, I suspect that the reasoning was extended from an earlier precedent that allows the police to search your car if you are arrested while driving, which I find equally reprehensible, but has been in effect for enough years that, in the current 'presumed to be a terrorist until stripped, fondled, and proved otherwise' climate, it is unlikely to be overturned.

  • "Stolen" phones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:48AM (#34753140) Homepage Journal
    So what if the phone is stolen? Does the person who originally owned the phone get to be violated twice, once when the phone was stolen and again when the cops go through their personal data? Actually I could see the cops doing exactly this, basically hire someone to steal a suspect/famous person/chief's ex-wifes phone and then "arrest" the person and go through the "stolen" cell phone getting whatever incriminating evidence they damn well please without all the hassle of having to go get a warrant.
    • truly insightful. the fact that the guy who lost his phone (or 'lost' in quotes) now gets fucked twice is the kind of thinking the state did NOT do when considering trash laws like this.

      we are too quick to make new laws for someone's convenience. its usually not in the peoples' best interests, is what I'm seeing.

      rights of police: increasing
      rights of citizens: decreasing

      is that NOT the very essence of what a police state is?

      representative government... MY ASS!

  • by inthealpine (1337881) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:52AM (#34753178)
    So if the police can search not only the phone in a physical sense, but check the data on the phone or even remote connections to data not on my phone, doesn't that mean other items that 'access property' could be seen the same way? I have keys to my car and house those items are 'on my person' and can access my car (information) and my house (more information). Setting a precedent like this is not far fetched, I mean look at the new health care law (like it or love it) the federal government says it can make every US citizen buy a product because the precedent comes from the federal governments ability to regulate trade between states.

    The constitution couldn't foresee computers or the internet (not that it needed to), but look at what the government does with individual rights when there is perceived uncertainty about peoples rights as it relates to data, we have none.
    This is a slippery slope.
    • even remote connections to data not on my phone

      At what point did they rule that the police can do that?

  • This is great news! So when does season 6 of The Wire start?
  • So, the old police practice was to plant something that wasn't yours on you before arresting you.

    Will the new police practice be to plant things that are yours on you prior to an arrest? "Why yes, Your Honor, the defendant was carrying his laptop, dresser, closet, and kitchen sink in his pocket. Impressed the hell out of me, it did. I'd like to know where he got those pants."

  • by kellyb9 (954229) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @10:59AM (#34753862)
    ...searching you car if you're arrested for DUI. If its physically on your person after being arrested, I think its fair game. I know I'm in the minority on this, but I believe there is reasonable cause to search the items in your possession (wallet, cell phones, etc.) if you have already been arrested. Of course, I can already hear the throngs of anti-cop types that complain about cops arresting people just to get an opportunity to search your individual belongings. Not that I believe this happens as frequently as they'd have you believe, there’s an easy loophole here. If a judge determines that it wasn't an arrestable offense, then all evidence found after the fact be inadmissible in a court case against you.

    I could be wrong, but either way, this should force a supreme court ruling in the matter.
  • Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by krou (1027572) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:07AM (#34753950)
    A link to the actual ruling would have been nice: http://www.sfgate.com/ZKUI [sfgate.com] (PDF).
  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:41AM (#34754256) Homepage Journal

    Can they open a sealed package or the mail in envelopes you haven't yet opened? If so, then it sounds like arrest allows a search of your person. I am not sure that is the case, however.

    I was under the impression that the only reason they could look at what you have on you is because they inventory your personal items during arrest, which places them in plain sight. A sealed envelope could not be opened. In the case of your smart phone, it is a mailbox with personal correspondence that is not in plain sight.

    To really put it out there, I'm not terribly concerned if your phone is set to show callers or display text messages, and as you're sitting in a cell, they happen to read an inbound text or see somebody calling in. Again, plain sight, and your cell phone is in the possession of the police. It's the same as if they glanced into the side window of your impounded car and read a note.

    To keep these things fair, however, the *internal* content of your phone is like the inside of your car's trunk... they should only be able to search your phone without consent in the same kinds of situations that they can search the trunk of your car without consent.

  • by Quila (201335) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @11:43AM (#34754286)

    I'm going to create an address book group called "Crack clients" and put the police chief's and mayor's home phone numbers in there, among others I don't like.

    Then at least if I ever get arrested I'll have some entertainment to show for it.

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.

Working...