Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Privacy Rights of Cell Phone Users

The Supreme Court ruled today that a warrantless search of a cell phone violates the Fourth Amendment, even when it occurs during a lawful arrest. The Court's decision in Riley v. California makes clear that "a search of the information on a cell phone bears little resemblance to the type of brief physical search" allowed in the past. The Court said "Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee's person." EPIC, joined by 24 legal scholars and technical experts on the EPIC Advisory Board, filed a friend of the court brief, arguing that cell phones contain a wealth of sensitive personal data, and that officers can reasonably secure phones while they apply for a warrant to search them. EPIC wrote, "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." The EPIC brief was cited by the Supreme Court in its decision. For more information, see EPIC: Riley v. California.

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