On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases in which information found on cell phones, obtained by searching those phones without a warrant, led to convictions: United States v. Wurie and Riley v. California. At issue is whether the Fourth Amendment’s rules on unreasonable searches and seizures apply to cell phones.
Civil liberty groups and others argue that because phones can contain virtually every detail of a person’s life, including photos, videos, bank account information, and medical information, they are far different than the paper address books or notepads that previously might have been found on a suspect and legally searched without a warrant. Law enforcement agencies argue that if they don’t search the devices immediately, they could be wiped remotely. …[Read more]