Can The Police Take My Cell Phone And Search It?

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court had the opportunity to decide on whether police need to obtain a search warrant to examine cellphone location information held by wireless carriers.  However, the court declined to answer the question, rising the concern of how well wireless carriers protect privacy.

Why wasn’t a search warrant needed?

The United States had obtained a court order asking the wireless carrier to disclose location data from a suspect’s cellphone, without first obtaining a warrant.   They relied on a provision of the 1987 Federal Stored Communications Act, stating probable cause is not needed to obtain customer records.

In addition, the court recognized in Smith v. Maryland that a cellphone user had no reasonable expectation of privacy when dialing numbers.  Since the wireless carrier maintains them for their record, the user knowingly exposes this information regardless.

Should a search warrant be required anyway?

Given the progression of technology in the area of mobile devices since 1987, they have become more than just a device used for communication purposes.  In this day in age, cellphones contain a wealth data that could be private to the user.

Taking this progression into consideration, privacy should be assumed by the user.  A person cannot use the device without first having to share their information with the wireless carrier.  

This inherent problem should not be turned into a dilemma of whether or not to use a cellphone.  Thus, the burden to maintain a certain level of privacy should be on the carrier and not the user.

Protection under the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution citizens enjoy the protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.  The user may voluntary disclose this information, but privacy should still be maintained.  Wireless users should not have to fear their private information could be released when using their own property.

Privacy concerns still remain.

The court may have had their motives for declining the case, but privacy concerns still remain.  Mobile devices have advanced over the years, and the law should allow for users to maintain privacy in their effects. Therefore, wireless carriers should have a higher level of privacy when releasing customer data.

Criminal Case Problems? Call today!

If you have a matter regarding a search and seizure violation of your cell phone, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Tina M. Barberi at (559) 447-1240 to discuss your case.  

Posted on
April 22, 2015
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Fresno Criminal Law Posts
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can police search my phone, cell phone privacy, information on my phone private, is my phone private, jail searches, phone searches

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