U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights

The United States Supreme Court has banned warrantless cell phone searches, effectively updating the legal framework of privacy rights to keep up with 21st century technology. This report from the Washington Times:

No mobile phone

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“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,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the unanimous court.

“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.”

Justices even said police cannot check a cellphone’s call log, saying even those contain more information that just phone numbers, and so perusing them is a violation of privacy that can only be justified with a warrant.

The chief justice said cellphones are different not only because people can carry around so much more data — the equivalent of millions of pages of documents — that police would have access to, but that the data itself is qualitatively different than what someone might otherwise carry.

He said it could lay bare someone’s entire personal history, from their medical records to their “specific movements down to the minute.”…

[continues at the Washington Times]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

6 Comments on "U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Jun 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm |

    hard to believe they ruled in favor of the constitution
    was this the Homeland Supreme Court?

  2. Simon Valentine | Jun 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm |

    just another belief-it-or-not card

    “continue about your illegalities that happen to neither surmount nor dispossess nor accommodate and we will do the same” is the message

    “i heard freedom”

  3. So what case is coming down the pike that Roberts needed good PR to deflect attention away from?

  4. I’m sure there is some catch to this…

  5. lilbear68 | Jun 26, 2014 at 12:44 pm |

    this is good but I don’t think its over, you can never hope to get a final judgment against the fed from an employee of the fed.
    never forget that they can reverse themselves as they have in the past.
    this is why the final/ultimate power rests with the states and the people in the form of nullification

  6. Truth Teller | Jun 26, 2014 at 7:51 pm |

    Court rulings aside, the police will do whatever they please. Remember how they are confiscating cell pones when people video them doing something they’d rather was not recorded? They know it’s illegal, but nothing ever happens to them when they do it. This will be no different.

    Welcome to the police state. “Ve must zee your papers”, cell phone, and anything else we want.

Comments are closed.