Supreme Court Misses a Chance to Address Difficult Privacy Question

, The Legal Intelligencer


In Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, 189 L.Ed. 2d 430 (2014), a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that the warrantless searches of the contents of cellphones seized from a person were not proper as searches incident to arrest and so, absent exigent circumstances particular to the matter, they were a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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What's being said

  • StevenJM

    Mr. Deutchman states "It would be absurd to claim that law enforcement should have no access, under any circumstances, to any of these communications because they have replaced evanescent communications to which, by their nature, law enforcement would have had no access." However, that is not what the Supreme Court held. The opinion doesn‘t say that there should be no access to cell phone data "under any circumstances". The circumstances merely need to be that probable cause exists, after which a search warrant can be sought. The search warrant will be authorized by a judge where probable cause has been established. To argue that law enforcement should be allowed free access to cell phone data without any basis whatsoever is shocking! More so considering that as an attorney he may, (as I often do), have privileged documents stored (encrypted) in the phone‘s memory card. If I am stopped for a traffic violation and it is found that I have a warrant for an outstanding parking ticket in a foreign jurisdiction, for which I will be taken into custody, why should the police then have unfettered access to the contents of my telephone including all 64 Gb of data? Mr. Deutchman‘s objections ignore the requirements of the United States‘ Constitution.

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