Police Need Warrant to Search Cell Phones’ Digital Contents, U.S. Supreme Court Holds

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held, in Riley v. California (decided together with U.S. v. Wurie) that the police may not conduct a warrantless search of the digital contents of a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.

Justice Roberts’ tour through the Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence culminates with this terse observation:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life”. The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.

Share This: