Supreme Court to Decide Two Cases on Cell Phone Searches

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases on warrantless cell phone searches. One is a state case, the other is federal:

The court will hear an appeal from David Riley, a San Diego man who was stopped by the police, initially for having expired registration tags. A subsequent search of his cellphone tied him to a gang shooting. The California Supreme Court by a 5-2 decision upheld the search of cellphones in a related case.

The court will also hear the Justice Department’s appeal of a ruling that rejected the search of a cellphone that was taken from an alleged drug dealer.


From the Supreme Court Order List:

The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to the following question: Whether evidence admitted at petitioner's trial was obtained in a search of petitioner's cell phone that violated petitioner's Fourth Amendment rights.

The second case is United States v. Wurie from the First Circuit. Via Scotus Blog:

Whether the Fourth Amendment permits the police, without obtaining a warrant, to review the call log of a cellphone found on a person who has been lawfully arrested.

Scotus Blog explains:

Both of the new cases on cellphone privacy involve the authority of police, who do not have a search warrant, to examine the data that is stored on a cellphone taken from a suspect at the time of arrest. The two cases span the advance in technology of cellphones: the government case, Wurie, involves the kind of device that is now considered old-fashioned — the simple flip phone. The Riley case involves the more sophisticated type of device, which functions literally as a hand-held computer, capable of containing a great deal more personal information.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Good question (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 08:24:01 AM EST
    VC had something a few months ago on the distinction of being "secure in your papers" that I would guess would include the modern cell phone and computers.

    If a cop wants to stop someone and check their phone log, what prevents them from using the ruse of claiming the person was using the phone while driving?

    In Most Places... (none / 0) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:00:52 AM EST
    ...it's not illegal to use your phone while driving.  Here is Houston, that would only be school zones for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

    If you encrypt your phone, no one, including the NSA can hack it, this is why they are fighting to make that option unavailable.  Right now it's built into most OS's and can be accomplished with a couple clicks.  But if your forget the password, you phone will be a brick.

    The work around is forcing people to divulge the PW or be in contempt of court.


    Wonder how long (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 07:16:45 AM EST
    It will be before we hear of a case involving the data in your car and Fourth Amendment rights.

    My old car took little interest in my affairs; it didn't even know what radio station I was tuned to unless I told it.

    But its replacement, like most newer models, watches me like a jealous lover, monitoring my speed and seat-belt use and scrutinizing my phone's contact list for new entries each time I turn on the ignition.

    The auto industry's advances in information technology stir delusions of God-like omniscience in some Big Three executives.

    "We know everyone who breaks the law," Ford Motor's top sales executive, Jim Farley, told a crowd of reporters at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. "We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing."

    Ford CEO Alan Mulally retracted Farley's claim almost as soon as it was out of his mouth. "We would never track the vehicles," he insisted.

    But if Farley's boasts were exaggerated, the legal issues raised by his employer's ever-expanding data collection are real, as Mulally later acknowledged.

    The cars that Ford and its competitors are making know so much about their owners, he said, that the industry needs the federal government to decide who should have access to that information, and for what purposes.

    This Would Require... (none / 0) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:10:48 AM EST
    ...some sort of communication between car and company, now only an option on higher end models and you have to pay for it.  

    The contact list info can be PW protected.  I can't imagine there being enough memory to track a car for any real length of time, maybe a month.  Now if you start saving locations, those will be stored.  Also, you can delete all the information, which should be done when you sell the vehicle.

    But that would be interesting, what happens if someone doesn't delete the data, is it viewed like trash, surely, and if the person was say drug dealing, there could be a lot of very useful info.

    And all ECM store the history of your car's performance, which means since electronic ignitions have existed, 30 years, there has been a history including speed.  Sop far as I know, no one has ever been charged with speeding because it's stored in your ECM.

    All the info mentioned above will be in your phone, so why go after the car's limited info, when it's all being transmitted to your services provider already ?


    That assumes (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:17:47 AM EST
    Someone has a phone or that it's on.

    And if they could make this real time, police could tap in and see who's speeding right now, could pull you over, and maybe try and get a reason to search the car.

    What if the car can sense certain smells i.e. illegal substances?  Would that be enough to plug into a real-time police database?

    All kinds of possibilities open up.

    What people should worry about is if they ever install cameras - ever see how many people pick their nose because they think no one can see them?  (BTW - We CAN see you, and ew.)


    Smells (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:34:49 PM EST
    Call every government agency in the county when that happens.  That is something they have been trying for years to develop, a computer that can 'smell'.  They are not even close, unlike vision, a smell is not made up of one 'bit'.  That is why dogs are so accurate, they have the ability to separate smells, and detect an ingredients even when masking agents are used.  

    Why exactly would this be in a car ?

    The quote above is clearly discussing some functions that require a phone be connected to the car via Bluetooth, without the phone they are useless functions.

    Same with GPS, it can easily be turned off, but most just leave it on for convenience.

    That being said, Progressive insurance has some sort of gimzo you can install on your vehicle to get rates reduced.  It monitors driving, possibly a camera, not sure, and not sure if it's automatic or if the user uploads to their site.  In any case, it records ones driving habits and uses that information to calculate insurance rates.  Which means that information will most certainly be in a database.

    The bottle neck with speeding tickets is the cops writing them, not speeders which are nearly infinite.  What would be the benefit of tapping into the car for the speed info they can already gather fairly easily ?


    Site Violator! (none / 0) (#8)
    by Zorba on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 06:01:16 PM EST
    Spam.  On a couple of threads.