Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Cellphones Privacy The Courts United States Your Rights Online

SCOTUS To Weigh Smartphone Searches By Police 201

schwit1 writes "The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether police can search an arrested criminal suspect's cell phone without a warrant in two cases that showcase how the courts are wrestling to keep up with rapid technological advances. Taking up cases from California and Massachusetts arising from criminal prosecutions that used evidence obtained without a warrant, the high court will wade into how to apply older court precedent, which allows police to search items carried by a defendant at the time of arrest, to cell phones."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SCOTUS To Weigh Smartphone Searches By Police

Comments Filter:
  • Can we hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colinrichardday ( 768814 ) <> on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:21PM (#45995339)

    Can we hope for the proper decision (that police need a warrant)?

  • Re:Can we hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:25PM (#45995367) Homepage

    We can hope for a proper decision of you can crack the encryption if you can after getting a warrant and the owner has no burden to help you nor can refusal be held against them.

  • by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:37PM (#45995469) Journal

    If there is enough evidence for arrest, then there is enough evidence TO GET A GODDAMN WARRANT. Does the Fourth Amendment mean nothing to ANYONE anymore?

  • by johngaunt ( 414543 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:37PM (#45995475)

    A pin or pattern / gesture lock is useless if the cops have the phone. They DO have tools to render such trivial things useless. They DO use those tools. I have seen the little box with the multitude of connectors being attached to a phone, and then the phone is unlocked, data dumped, and sorted through. Encryption, strong, non manufacturer based encryption, is the only thing close to safe.

  • Papers and EFFECTS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:47PM (#45995553)
    It's not that complicated, damn it.
  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:48PM (#45995557)

    Seriously? How on earth does anything you just said magically erase the US Constitution?

    That smartphone represents, just as you said, access to huge amounts of information about the suspect. As well as information about innocent third parties that quite possibly had nothing to do with the crime.

    You're supporting the idea of fishing expeditions into a person's digital space.

    Arrest does not imply guilt. A member of the Judiciary should always be consulted regarding, and allowed to limit, the scope of any search of a person's effects and papers.

    So, NO. There is not always enough evidence to justify the full and complete invasion of privacy of a citizen that is innocent until being proved guilty. If there really is a justifiable reason to invade that privacy than the police can convince a judge to do it.

    Don't be a douchenozzle that enables their asshattery please.

    There is never an acceptable reason to violate due process and PERFORM ANY ACTION WITHOUT A WARRANT .

    Warrant, warrant, warrant, W A R R A N T!

    It's a well conceived check and balance against tyranny ever present in a law enforcement organization. Don't give up something so valuable to the citizens over such stupid reasons.

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:57PM (#45995631)

    I think it largely has to do with ignorance.

    The poster holds a rather unsophisticated view that allows them to see the police's reasonable and justified need for access to that information as something correct and desirable.

    The 4th doesn't mean anything to the poster since they don't understand the basics taught to people in Civic's class. That being, the ostensibly simple concept of having a member of the Judiciary act as a check and balance against the needs of the Executive.

    Nobody is saying that the police should not have access to that data. They absolutely should and I can totally understand that it would be very useful to solving crimes. What the proponents completely miss is the understanding of what a warrant is .

    That's the real problem. How many people understand what the heck a warrant even is anymore?

  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:03AM (#45996017)

    Younger generations don't seem to care? It seems to me like younger generations are the ONLY ones that care. The older generations are the ones that got us here.

    Don't put shit on the youth. They're active. They care. OUR apathy and ignorance got us here.

  • Re:Sure, allow it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:16AM (#45996081) Journal

    If you want to allow the police to look through your phone without a warrant, you're more than welcome to. I would appreciate it if you'd leave the rest of us out it.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:27AM (#45996151)

    You seem to agree with everything I said but want the hassle of the warrant in situations that you agree are nearly 100% likely to get one.

    The key word there is "nearly." We have a name for the exceptions: they're called "civil rights violations!"

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:49AM (#45996255)

    Not to mention that any honest reading of the Constitution would acknowledge that the data on a smartphone (or other computer) is the modern equivalent of one's "papers".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:21AM (#45996375)

    So why not skip all the bullcrud and use common sense and let cops do their job.

    Because "all the bullcrud" is there to help keep the cops from abusing their power! By getting a warrant, they are (at least in theory) affirming that they have probable cause to conduct a search. If we were to let your "common sense" take over, then the cops could search people for whatever reason they felt like, probable cause be damned. Now, the vast majority of them may in fact be sane, rational, and fair with when they conduct searches without a warrant. However, there are plenty of crooked cops who will use it as an excuse to harass people. THIS is why we have the requirement for a warrant. Read the goddamn Bill of Rights sometimes. Half of the stuff in there should be common sense, but it's there because power can and WILL be abused without some safeguard!

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:22AM (#45996381)

    So why not skip all the bullcrud and use common sense and let cops do their job.

    That "bullcrud" is called Due Process and the Constitution of the United States of America.

    "Nearly 100%" doesn't cut it. You're being a douchenozzle right now.

    If it was your freedom at risk, why would you elect to remove the Judiciary oversight from your interaction with law enforcement?

    Another question:

    You may feel that way, but why would you deny me my Constitutional right to privacy in my effects and papers?

    The position you hold is not reasonable, or rational, and basically amounts to "due process and oversight is so hard. I have to like convince a judge that my logic is correct".

    In other words, you strongly disagree with the idea of peer review.

    Those checks and balances were created by the founding fathers for a reason. Not just to fuck with law enforcement and make their lives harder.

  • by Libertarian001 ( 453712 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:38AM (#45996479)

    Yes, let's let the cops do their job. That includes GETTING A GOD-DAMNED WARRANT.

    The rest of your commentary is so laughably idiotic that I hope no one wastes any time responding to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @04:20AM (#45996777)

    In the days of landlines, *everyone* had multiple people using the same phone. I still do that to this day with my smartphone. Friends, siblings, etc. use my phone all the time, and why shouldn't they? You can't assume anything on my smartphone was done by me alone. Same with my PC. Back before cell phones, if someone ran out of gas and walked to the nearest house to borrow their phone, it wasn't unusual at all. I was also always happy to show off my Commodore 64 and Amiga to all my friends or relatives. Why are we assumed not to have this privilege anymore? At what point did we *become* our phone or PC? I'm not a phone number or IP address, I'm a human being. Don't I have the right to be courteous enough to let others use my equipment anymore?

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @05:00AM (#45996867)
    I wouldn't think 10 in 100 would be able to name the amendments. I don't think anyone in Congress has heard of the 9th or 10th Amendments. And nearly everyone I talked to about Amendments gets pretty fuzzy after the second, especially the 3rd is so irrelevant.

    I'd say more like 1 in 100 would be able to name the first 10 amendments.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @08:01AM (#45997445)

    I blame most, if not all, of our problems on baby boomers. Spoiled rotten little fuckin' brats. They had it great, and then they ruined it for the rest of us, trying to keep things great for themselves, because, of course, it's all about them. I wish they'd all just die already.

    You're 17 years old and just graduated high school. You turn 18 two weeks later, you got a new job lined up paying good money, and can't wait to go out drinking with your older buddies after your birthday.

    Then you realize you're not in college, and your draft card shows up in the mail the next day.

    If you made it back home alive from the Vietnam War and lucky enough to not be mentally and/or physically fucked, you were still chastised, hated, and even spit upon by your fellow Americans.

    Fuck You for thinking baby boomers had it "great". Two words for you: Mandatory Draft. Try for once just imagining that. Fighting for your real life at 18 years old instead of just worrying about ranking up on COD with an XBox controller in your hand. At least this generation was given a choice to participate in such nightmares that were as pointless as our wars are today.

    And no, I'm not even close to being a baby boomer. I just can't stand retarded levels of ignorance, particularly from those who can't see the narcissism issue in millennials. Like this generation is any less self-serving.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:35AM (#45998015)

    Sadly, an arrest is not an objective process. It only means that a cop thought it would be a good idea to arrest someone, that's basically all it means. Now, of course in most cases, I'd hope, it means that the cop has some very good reason to believe the person he arrested broke a law.

    But what keeps a crooked cop from arresting someone he thought has slept with his wife to get a hold of that person's cellphone to see whether he can find some pictures that prove it?

  • by oobayly ( 1056050 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:03AM (#45998211)

    It's not unreasonable at all - the guy was arrested for selling stolen goods on Craig's list, it's not unreasonable to suspect that the other items he has advertised have been stolen.

    It's not like he was arrested for breaking a red light and wanting to search his house - that is not acceptable.

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:03PM (#45999399) Homepage

    Unfortunately the seller came out of his apartment with the hot TV, not letting anyone inside to see all of the other stuff that he had listed on CL. Despite arresting him with stolen merchandise they could not get a warrant to search his apartment.

    I do not think that this was right,

    I think it is possible, given the description, for that to be the right decision. You don't mention whether the authorities had any evidence that he had a history of negligently receiving stolen goods before, or that any of the other Craig's List listings were stolen. It is possible to conceive an innocent story that matches those events.

    I have purchased several tired, used guitars recently from Craig's List. I have fixed them up and will now sell some of them. If it turns out that one of them is stolen, I would argue that does not amount to probable cause that I am warehousing stolen merchandise. Assuming I have a credible explanation for having one stolen guitar, it seems like it is substantially more likely that I am an innocent collateral actor and a warrant is not justified. Or, slightly differently; I would fight the warrant(*) and I think I would win.

    I don't know the specifics of the story you are recounting, so your perception may be well founded. Based on the brief synopsis you present, however, it is possible to construct a backstory that would not support a warrant to my mind. I think that is one of the challenges that often eludes us in analysis of suspicious behavior; to consider how likely it is for an innocent person to have stumbled under the inspector's glass.

    * if, for example, they found something else illegal, like a refrigerator full of murdered mimes, and attempted to convict based on plain view doctrine []

  • Re:Can we hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @04:16PM (#46000287) Journal

    No. And stop resisting arrest immediately.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun