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Supreme Court Will Decide If Warrantless Cellphone Searches Are Constitutional, by Kwame Opam, The Verge


The United States Supreme Court will rule on two cases on whether a warrantless search of cell phones is legal under the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions will impact Fourth Amendment search and seizure procedures for law enforcement – must police first obtain a search warrant to access the data on an arrestee’s cell phone? May a cell phone and its digital data be used as evidence?

At this time, both federal circuit courts and state supreme courts disagree as to whether the police can search a cell phone without a warrant. The Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals, together with the Supreme Courts of Georgia, California, and Massachusetts say yes, they can. The First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Courts of Florida and Ohio disagree.

The courts are not the only ones paying close attention to the outcome of these two cases. Several organizations and others are concerned about maintaining privacy of digital devices and data. Law enforcement is in favor a final decision allowing warrantless searches on cell phones if there is probable cause.

The Supreme Court may rule as early as April 2014. -CCE