Chalk one up for the people – cellphone searches to require warrant
It seems that common sense has arrived via a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court that has struct an important blow for privacy rights. The court ruled that police must obtain a warrant to search your cellphone.
In a 4 to 3 decision the court ruled in the case of Antwaun Smith that the search of his cellphone by police violated his Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The majority noted that in today’s society modern cellphones – especially Internet enabled ones – are capable of storing a wealth of personal digitized information.
It is this information the court reasoned that people have a reasonable and high expectation of privacy, and so under established Fourth Amendment principals the police must get a search warrant in order to examine the contents or look through call logs. It is the court’s opinion, and now precedent setting law in Ohio, that all cellphones fall under this protection.
Few federal courts have considered the issue of cellphone searches, and they have disagreed about whether a warrant should be required. The Ohio ruling eloquently makes the case for why the very personal information that new forms of technology aggregate must be accorded a significant degree of privacy.
Let’s hope that this is going to be a growing trend in 2010.