Supreme Court rules cops need warrants to search mobile devices

CW39
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WASHINGTON, DC – Score one for privacy.

The Supreme Court ruled cops now must have a warrant before searching mobile devices.

The argument essentially boiled down to whether cell phones are more similar to wallets or cars — which police can search without a warrant — or personal computers, which they generally cannot.

Seems pretty easy to answer — and apparently the Supreme Court justices agreed, because the vote was a unanimous 9-0.

So what does this mean for law enforcement?

“There’s a buffer now, and it allows a judge to decide whether there’s probable cause to, in essence, search a cell phone,” Houston attorney Philip Hilder said. “It doesn’t allow the police to willy-nilly take a look at your phone.”

For Al Herzik, who had his phone confiscated by a Houston police officer, the ruling feels like a victory.

Herzik says he was trying to film an altercation involving a cop, when the officer grabbed his phone and held it for months.

“I believe this is an amazing decision, something that should have come down a long time ago,” Herzik said. “I hope all citizens will take heed to this and that they will go out and record anything that they see and that they want to record.”

Looks like search and seizure has entered the digital age.

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