Okay, this is just wrong. It is wrong in so many ways but according to a post just spotted over at PhoneArena, and again at Ars Technica, the California Supreme Court has just lost its ever-lovin’ mind.
In a ruling handed down by the court police officers can now read the messages on your mobile phone without needing a warrant, if they suspect you of doing something wrong. Well considering that is already the typical mindset of cops anywhere today this ruling sends chills down the spine.
Here is the court’s explanation:
“The majority opinion, written by Justice Ming Chin, cited precedents from the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the contents of a cell phone are like the contents of clothing or a cigarette pack found on a suspect’s person. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that those types of searches do not require a warrant under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the court said.”
The problem with this is that we don’t keep personal messages in a pack of cigarettes or typically in our pant’s pockets or purse.
In its review of the case, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment didn’t apply to the text messages on Diaz’s cell phone at the time of arrest. The court cited a number of previous cases wherein defendants were arrested with all manner of incriminating objects—heroin tablets hidden in a cigarette case, paint chips hidden in clothing, marijuana in the trunk of a car—which did not require a warrant to obtain. The court said that the phone was “immediately associated” with Diaz’s person, and therefore the warrantless search was valid.
The decision was not unanimous, though. “The potential intrusion on informational privacy involved in a police search of a person‟s mobile phone, smartphone or handheld computer is unique among searches of an arrestee’s person and effects,” Justices Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos Moreno wrote in dissent.
They went on to argue that the court majority’s opinion would allow police “carte blanche, with no showing of exigency, to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee’s person. The majority thus sanctions a highly intrusive and unjustified type of search, one meeting neither the warrant requirement nor the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
I sure hope this gets appealed and a court with some common sense, and an appreciation of individual rights, will hear the case.
If this is allowed to stand you can be sure it will spread to other states; and almost assuredly be abused.