Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases presenting the question of whether the warrantless search of a cell phone following an arrest violates the Fourth Amendment. A transcript of arguments in the first case, Riley v. California, is here and the second case, United States v. Wurie, is here. The Justices acknowledged that the search of a cell phone is unlike the search of a physical object. Justice Kagan stated "People carry their entire lives on cell phones." EPIC argued in its "friend of the court" brief, signed by twenty-four prominent legal and technical scholars, that "Allowing police officers to search a person’s cell phone without a warrant following an arrest would be a substantial infringement on privacy, is unnecessary, and unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment." According to the Pew Research Group, 90% of American adults have smart phones. Approximately 12 million Americans are arrested each year. For more information, see EPIC: Riley v. California and EPIC Blog - Argument Recap: Justices Look to Limit Warrantless Cell Phone Searches.
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Communications Law and Policy
Jerry Kang and Alan Butler