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Police Can Search Cell Phones Without Warrants

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-like-opening-a-wallet dept.

The Courts 438

Hugh Pickens writes "The California Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 2 to allow police to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody. Under US Supreme Court precedents, 'this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body... but also to open and examine what they find,' the state court said. The dissenting justices said those rulings shouldn't be extended to modern cell phones that can store huge amounts of data and that the decision allows police '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.' Interestingly enough, the Ohio Supreme Court reached an opposite conclusion in a December 2009 ruling that police had violated drug defendants' rights by searching their cell phones after their arrests. The Ohio-California split could prompt the US Supreme Court to take up the issue, says California Deputy Attorney General Victoria Wilson, who represented the prosecution in the case."

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Computer that happens to be a phone (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752894)

Glad I use an iPhone and it's really a computer.

Re:Computer that happens to be a phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752912)

what do you mean? they will search that too

Re:Computer that happens to be a phone (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753074)

Cops don't know the difference. They might even say "Well that iPad is LIKE a phone," and justify scanning it for porn or whatever else they want to nail you with.

Re:Computer that happens to be a phone (5, Funny)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753170)

"At first they came for the druggies, but I" -- oh wait.

Re:Computer that happens to be a phone (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753320)

Glad I use an iPhone. My first call will be to my wife to remotely wipe the phone and then call a lawyer.

Re:Computer that happens to be a phone (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753408)

My first call will be to my wife to remotely wipe the phone and then call a lawyer.

If it's not a jailbroken iPhone, how do you know the "wipe" is really a wipe?

Passwords (5, Interesting)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752910)

What if my device is password protected? Can I be compelled to hand over the password? Because I won't.

If I cannot be compelled to hand over encryption keys for other forms of media, I'm not giving up a password to my mobile device, either.

At the same time, if they elect to seize and search my backpack, which is also locked, they have the option of breaking the lock to gain access to the contents. But is that legal? At that point, you're also destroying my property in the process.

Are these 'law enforcement officials' permitted to install software on devices in the course of conducting a 'search'?

Sticky.

Re:Passwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753004)

Answer: cooperate or be prepared to make love to a broomstick. Hey they can search your wallet, why not a phone?

Re:Passwords (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753220)

You just wouldn't be able to get through life without a cold Fascist boot at your throat, huh? Keep kissing it...

Re:Passwords (5, Insightful)

joh (27088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753008)

What if my device is password protected? Can I be compelled to hand over the password? Because I won't.
 

What do they need the password for? They don't want to use the thing, they want the data. As long as you don't have your data encrypted having the device is more than enough for them, no password needed.

Re:Passwords (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753064)

What do they need the password for? They don't want to use the thing, they want the data. As long as you don't have your data encrypted having the device is more than enough for them, no password needed.

Phones are getting more and more powerful. For some devices, such as the Nokia N900, it is indeed within reach to encrypt critical information. However, this obviously needs to be balanced against convenience. If you've set it up such that you need to re-enter the password on its tiny keyboard for each access (sending an SMS to one of your contacts in your address book, connecting to a Wifi, ...) it's way inconvenient. If, on the other hand, you set it up to cache the encryption password, it will be useless against this threat model: police won't certainly leave you the opportunity to press a panic button to flush the password from memory.

Re:Passwords (1)

SteelKidney (1964470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753092)

And this is why I use a BlackBerry. Full "disk" encryption, including media cards.

Re:Passwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753200)

and encryption keys escrowed with the US government, making all of that completely useless in this scenario.

Re:Passwords (1)

SteelKidney (1964470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753256)

Not at all. The issue at hand is my device getting read without a court order. Unless, of course, your tinfoil hat is screwed on tight enough that you believe that the local police have a direct line to the NSA and can break right through all kinds of encryption, CSI-style. As the issue is a simple traffic stop and device reading without a court order, then yes- encryption is the answer in this scenario

Re:Passwords (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753418)

Then it depends on whether it's the FBI that's stopping you or the locals. I'm pretty sure the feds don't make those keys available to every state trooper and deputy dipshit who pulls someone over for a simple weed bust.

Re:Passwords (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753118)

Unlike computers, where encryption is a fairly recent addition(obviously, computers have been capable of encryption for longer than cell phones have existed; but the idea that somebody's home directory is going to be encrypted and unusable with any degree of frequency is quite new, and still probably isn't true most of the time), the cellphones that do security at all often do it fairly well.

Particularly now that RIM has started selling cut-price blackberries to all and sundry to make up for their fall from grace in the elite-smartphone market, the odds that J. Scumbag is carrying a phone with encryption that was originally designed to appease Mr. Wallstreet's IT gestapo are quite good.

If RIM is secretly backdoored, or the unlock code is visible in touchscreen fingerprint grease and/or worn physical keys, that won't help; but the only thing a random beat cop is going to be able to do about it is either intimidate/beat you into divulging the passcode, or just seize the device for 24 months while Forensics works through the backlog.

Unless the suspect is a dumbass, or has a very downmarket phone, or is (gasp, shock, horror) actually just going about his business and hasn't considered having to secure his phone against cops, there are plenty of "you can beat the rap; but you can't beat the ride" style intimidation/harassment/de-facto perpetual seizure strategies; but actually getting any data could be pretty tricky...

Re:Passwords (4, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753162)

Even if it is backdoored, it probably isn't going to hurt you. If there is a secret backdoor in blackberries, AES encryption, etc, then the government isn't going to piss away that secret in order to bust some drug dealer or guy trading child porn. A backdoor like that would only be used in cases where you wanted to keep its existance secret, such a national security / espionage operations.

Re:Passwords (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753276)

What do they need the password for? They don't want to use the thing, they want the data. As long as you don't have your data encrypted having the device is more than enough for them, no password needed.

Good thing I've got a blackberry then - the data is encrypted with AES-128.

Oh, you don't have that feature on your iphone/android/nokia? Sucks to be you - you should have bought a real smartphone.

Re:Passwords (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753082)

At the same time, if they elect to seize and search my backpack, which is also locked, they have the option of breaking the lock to gain access to the contents. But is that legal?

Yep, once you're arrested.

I was concerned when I read the sensationalist headline, but they can only search your phone after you've been arrested. Not really much difference between a phone and a wallet, except for amount of data.

I seriously doubt they could get away with installing software on your phone, even after they arrest you.

Re:Passwords (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753192)

I seriously doubt they could get away with installing software on your phone, even after they arrest you.

With a warrant they could. Have you ever seen a suspected drug house after the police end a search? They can go to town on the walls with sledge hammers. Sure, you can sue them later, but even if they don't find drugs, it's unlikely that you'll get anywhere if it seems like they had probable cause to think there would be drugs there.

Re:Passwords (0)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753196)

Well, the amount of data is considerable.

And I'm nit sure if there's reasonable justification to search a wallet either.

Re:Passwords (2)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753212)

Well, since people can be arrested for the sole crime of "resisting arrest" (and they say cops are dumb!), I would say nobody's phone is safe on their person in CA.

Re:Passwords (5, Insightful)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753100)

You can be compelled to hand over a password, but it requires a court order. However, in the case of having your phone taken when you are arrested, the police don't need your password to see your data if it is unencrypted. They'll just read the phone memory with another device.

Generally, it's easy for the police to seize your property, relatively risk-free for them to damage it, and difficult for you to get it back in a timely fashion.

You can thank the drug war.

Re:Passwords (4, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753164)

It's probably a bad idea to put a lot of information into a cellphone anyway. It's too easy to lose, or get pickpocketed. I'd rather keep my information secure in my house and only use the phone's storage sparingly (or not at all).

BTW in the UK refusal to provide a password or passkey to decode an encrypted device is punishable with several years in jail. You have no right to remain silent in the UK, and it's beginning to look like the US is headed down the same path.

Re:Passwords (1)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753384)

Two years in jail. Given that RIPA requests for encryption keys are usually related to terrorism, espionage or paedophilia investigations, that's a href="a lot "cheaper" than going down for the suspected crime.

Re:Passwords (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753126)

I know you will give up your password. All it will take is a pistol whipping and you will be giving the cops every password you know.

Nothing like being smashed in the face with a pistol and tazed in the groin over and over to get you ro willingly give up your passwords.

Re:Passwords (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753412)

fuckyoucoppersyou'llnevergetmy42passwords!FUCKERs!!1! is a pretty strong password.

Re:Passwords (1)

a Flatbed Darkly (1964478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753180)

Here in the UK, the RIPA [legislation.gov.uk] already allows authorities to "compel" us to disclose our passwords and keys in what is basically judicial rubberhosing. I can see it coming to the US very soon.

Whole disk encryption and laptops (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752916)

It won't be long before we see another court case concerning a defendant's right not to disclose his whole disk encryption passphrase.

Re:Whole disk encryption and laptops (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753130)

It sure would be an awful pity if the dashboard camera were to suffer a "technical malfunction" just before I ask you for your passphrase again, boy. People get hurt resisting arrest...

Come on, you know the song... (2)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752936)

I am governor Jerry Brown.
My aura smiles
and never frowns...

Re:Come on, you know the song... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752958)

Yep, when all the Californians were gleefully cheering Jerry Brown for re-entering the fold, I was singing California Uber Alles daily, without prompting. Now he is here. You'll look nice in a drawstring bag...

Re:Come on, you know the song... (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752978)

I can't wait for the suede denim secret police, since after all my niece is pretty uncool.

Re:Come on, you know the song... (1)

vm146j2 (233075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753172)

What you need is a Holiday . . .in Cambodia

Get thee to the Supremes (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752944)

If I'm arrested (not convicted, nor even charged), you don't get to perform a random search on my house without my consent. Why is a small, handheld electronic device any different?

Just because it happens to be able to make phone calls?

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (3)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752982)

The difference is that it happens to be on your person at the time of your arrest, and you lose the constitutional right to privacy when you are arrested. I suppose the original idea was that the police would be able to search your bag for weapons, or something like that, and it has (like so many others) been blown way out of proportion.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (5, Informative)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753052)

The difference is that it happens to be on your person at the time of your arrest, and you lose the constitutional right to privacy when you are arrested. I suppose the original idea was that the police would be able to search your bag for weapons, or something like that, and it has (like so many others) been blown way out of proportion.

No, not entirely accurate.

That's not the difference when it comes to smartphones (regular cell phones or semi-smart phones, yeah. If someone had my Android phone, they'd have full and free access to my gMail account, PayPal account, online photo albums, social networking accounts, address book (including the non phone portion such as Google Contacts) and so much more. And for many of my friends, it would also be unrestricted access to their home and/or work computer.

Therein lies the problem with this ruling (unless the court decided to differentiate between "dumbphones" and "smartphones" - but as I've already read one linked article (albeit for a different /. post), I've already done my quota of RTFA and don't know if he made that distinction. I'll just assume he didn't, as I believe policy is here....

THUS... this is a big problem and a big privacy violation for the millions of people who have smartphones.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (2)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753104)

That was exactly my concern. My question when I read the article was if "searching my phone" meant looking at just the data physically stored on my phone or looking at all the data my phone has access to. This wasn't really clarified in the article.

The case in question focused on evidence that police collected by looking through a suspects stored text messages. So a responsible and limited application of this ruling would be to just limit such searches to data immediately available on the phone. But I suspect that police will not really respect the distinction.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (3, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753210)

...So a responsible and limited application of this ruling would be to just limit such searches to data immediately available on the phone. But I suspect that police will not really respect the distinction.

Even if they understand such a distinction (if one ever enters into ruling/precedent/law), nowadays, it's getting harder to differentiate between the two, with so many services and apps that blur the line between locally stored stuff and stuff stored in the cloud. Making the situation worse is that some of the normally locally stored stuff nowadays is often stored in the cloud (like my contacts).

And even with the most sensible of laws/precedents/etc on this, I still would not trust the police to understand how to properly implement such searches in a way that does not violate such laws - not necessarily through bad intent on their part, but due to a lack of understanding of how the technology works, and how that relates to application of the law.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753268)

Even if they understand such a distinction (if one ever enters into ruling/precedent/law), nowadays, it's getting harder to differentiate between the two, with so many services and apps that blur the line between locally stored stuff and stuff stored in the cloud. Making the situation worse is that some of the normally locally stored stuff nowadays is often stored in the cloud (like my contacts).

In which case, your defense lawyer could try arguing that the police obtained the evidence illegally by connecting to a server they did not have a warrant to search. It is no different than the police using your house keys to enter your home while you are under arrest. (A competent prosecutor may, however, argue that it is better described as the police reading a pocket notebook and learning a secret phrase that must be spoken for an undercover agent to engage a drug dealer; I am sure that, in the wake of this ruling, there will be such a case.)

Of course, data stored "in the cloud" could be searched by the police without your being arrested and without them entering your home or touching any of your property, so the point is moot.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (2)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753286)

Even if they understand such a distinction (if one ever enters into ruling/precedent/law), nowadays, it's getting harder to differentiate between the two, with so many services and apps that blur the line between locally stored stuff and stuff stored in the cloud. Making the situation worse is that some of the normally locally stored stuff nowadays is often stored in the cloud (like my contacts).

In which case, your defense lawyer could try arguing that the police obtained the evidence illegally by connecting to a server they did not have a warrant to search.

IF you can afford a defense lawyer who knows technology well enough, and IF you have a judge that would understand what the hell he's talking about. It's not like the DA is going to just roll over and say "Yeah, we made a mistake... he's right".

Stop thinking we live in a perfect world.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753124)

maybe I do NOT want to carry or even own one of these 'privacy invitation boxes', then.

the cellphone companies better stand up and FIGHT THIS or they may see people STOP carrying/buying these.

this chilling effect surely made me think twice about putting my personal info on any kind of phone, smart or otherwise.

to keep things private in today's world, you just have to NOT have them on any form of media that the 'law enforcement' (choke, cough) folks could get at.

just like you have to have a child-proof home or pet-proof home, you now have to be 'leo invasion proof' when you're out and about.

oh, and this has to be said, loudly:

THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA I GREW UP IN.

"don't take that with you! if the cops stop you, they think they have a right to take that!"

my god ;(

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753176)

I did not say that I agreed with the ruling, I just gave my understanding of it. As far as I can tell, the judges are equating a cell phone with a pocket notebook -- the police can look through a pocket notebook, so why not cell phones and other electronics as well?

As for the level of access your cell phone might give them...that is, frankly, irrelevant. First of all, the police cannot arrest you, and then use your housekeys to enter your home and perform a warrantless search of your house, so I doubt that a court would allow the police to use passwords stored on your smartphone to access computers in your home (from TFA, it appears that the case in question involved the police viewing a text message stored on the arrested person's phone). As for the data stored on online services, the police could search that without even informing you of the search, and may even be able to look through it without a warrant. There is no good distinguishing characteristic of "smart phones" that could be used to differentiate them from "dumb phones" -- all modern cell phones are mobile computers, some are just less restricted than others.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753266)

I did not say that I agreed with the ruling, I just gave my understanding of it. As far as I can tell, the judges are equating a cell phone with a pocket notebook -- the police can look through a pocket notebook, so why not cell phones and other electronics as well?

I never said you did - you just forgot other implications. A phone is no longer a phone

As for the level of access your cell phone might give them...that is, frankly, irrelevant. First of all, the police cannot arrest you, and then use your housekeys to enter your home and perform a warrantless search of your house, so I doubt that a court would allow the police to use passwords stored on your smartphone to access computers in your home (from TFA, it appears that the case in question involved the police viewing a text message stored on the arrested person's phone).

Why would they have to do that? You have to remember, it's all really simply clicking on an app button. That's it. End of story. No looking for passwords or hunting for a computer or whatever. Just click an app.

And again, this has nothing to do with what the police did in THIS case, but EVERYTHING to do with what this ruling will allow them to do in future cases.

As for the data stored on online services, the police could search that without even informing you of the search, and may even be able to look through it without a warrant.

And then use it or not? This is where this ruling makes things difficult. Previously, such stuff could not be used unless obtained through legal methods (warrants, etc).

There is no good distinguishing characteristic of "smart phones" that could be used to differentiate them from "dumb phones" -- all modern cell phones are mobile computers,

Wow... no. They most definitely are not. There are still a bunch of phones sold that do no more than make calls and send/receive text messages. Or some WAP browsing thrown in to the mix. Regardless, even if you were correct, that does not make this ruling any better. It would make it WORSE.

some are just less restricted than others.

"Some are just regular texting phones" -fixed that for you.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753356)

Why would they have to do that? You have to remember, it's all really simply clicking on an app button. That's it. End of story. No looking for passwords or hunting for a computer or whatever. Just click an app.

...and a competent defense lawyer would immediately claim that the police were performing an illegal search if they allowed the phone to connect to some computer system somewhere. Believe it or not, the police do have to follow certain procedures, and defense lawyers do get evidence dismissed on the grounds that the procedures were not followed. Take a look through cryptome some time, and you will see some examples of procedures that the police need to follow while collecting computer evidence (some legal, some technical -- the point is, the police do not just look through these things willy-nilly).

There are still a bunch of phones sold that do no more than make calls and send/receive text messages

Go ahead and open up one of those phones, and tell me what you see. Just because the phone does not allow you to extend its capabilities does not mean that it is not a computer; it is just a computer that has been locked down and severely restricted.

"Some are just regular texting phones" -fixed that for you.

That is an artificial distinction. The phone has everything needed to meet the definition of "electronic computer," it just happens to have been deliberately restricted by the manufacturer and sometimes the cell phone carrier. The fact that you are only supposed to use it for sending text messages or making phone calls does not mean that it is not a computer.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753406)

Go ahead and open up one of those phones, and tell me what you see. Just because the phone does not allow you to extend its capabilities does not mean that it is not a computer; it is just a computer that has been locked down and severely restricted.

That is an artificial distinction. The phone has everything needed to meet the definition of "electronic computer," it just happens to have been deliberately restricted by the manufacturer and sometimes the cell phone carrier. The fact that you are only supposed to use it for sending text messages or making phone calls does not mean that it is not a computer.

No, no it most definitely is not. You're telling me I can open those phones and find a nice 800MHz or faster Qualcomm or other processor in there? Sure, by the SIMPLEST OF TERMS they technically are computers. But they are NOT capable of running those other services. If you think otherwise, then you obviously know nothing about phones, computers, microprocessors or phone software/operating systems. NOT enough RAM, NOT enough CPU power, NOT a capable enough CPU, MISSING various other hardware needed to be a smartphone. Those phones are NOT crippled smartphones. They are DUMB phones NOT CAPABLE of being a smartphone.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (2)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753208)

That's why it should be illegal to do it without a warrant.

Police officers can and will use anything and everything they find whether it matters or not, and stuff that doesn't matter will probably get you sentenced.

There's reasons why you shouldn't talk to police, and there's reasons why they shouldn't get free use of your phone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc [youtube.com] - it's long, but worth it.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753288)

Yeah, it's like giving them the right to search your house just because you happened to have your keys on you when you were arrested.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

hab136 (30884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753382)

you lose the constitutional right to privacy when you are arrested.

When convicted. Being arrested does not mean you are a criminal; it means the cop supposedly has a good reason to suspect you of a crime. Many people are arrested and then never convicted. They are not criminals and should not be treated as such until convicted.

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753112)

Because the court says so. Not a good reason, but the real one. I'm sure if you searched way down to the court transcripts you could find the arguments made by the lawyers for the officers. Oh and they can search your house, they just have to have to properly justify it afterward. Perhaps they would argue that weapons or dangerous chemicals could have been present.

Of course some disagree
Not ok
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2007/may/31/search_and_seizure_california_fe [stopthedrugwar.org]
Sure, ok
http://news.cnet.com/Police-blotter-Cops-OK-to-copy-cell-phone-content/2100-1030_3-6177464.html [cnet.com]

Re:Get thee to the Supremes (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753214)

How is Diana Ross going to help?

random searches for low-level crimes (5, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752950)

Monday's ruling upheld the drug conviction of Gregory Diaz, arrested in April 2007 by Ventura County sheriff's deputies who said they had seen him taking part in a drug deal. An officer took a cell phone from Diaz's pocket, looked at the text message folder 90 minutes later, and found a message that linked Diaz to the sale, the court said. Diaz pleaded guilty, was placed on probation and appealed the search.

WHEW! I feel SO much safer now that these low-level drug dealers are getting arrested and searched. I can now walk the streets safely knowing that these minor crimes are being prosecuted with probation sentences and bonus cell-phone searches.
I think we should just randomly pull poor people over and search everything they have including their cell phones and hopefully we can find SOMETHING to bust these criminals with!

Re:random searches for low-level crimes (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753012)

Why don't they take this one step further and start scanning records from the wireless carrier? This way they don't get up from their desk until they absolutely have to.

Re:random searches for low-level crimes (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753142)

*cough*"Quantico circuit"*cough*...

Re:random searches for low-level crimes (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753226)

They already do this. All it takes is a warrant from a judge to get the records.

Re:random searches for low-level crimes (3, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753236)

>>>Why don't they take this one step further and start scanning records from the wireless carrier?

They can. Read the recently-passed Financial Reform bill which gives police new powers to obtain records/user logs from any US-ISP and not need a warrant for either the user, or the company. They can just walk-in, take what they want, and walk out. They also have this same power with banks.

Thank you Democrat Congress of 2007-2010. Thank you Republicans for cooperating. Thank you for reaffirming that you are in fact ONE party, merely with different divisions.

Re:random searches for low-level crimes (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753240)

Uh they already do that...A LOT...

Re:random searches for low-level crimes (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753110)

Here's what a German pastor said after he was released from a Nazi jail cell:

"It was the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists [and drug dealers]. Who cared about them? ..... Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: 'Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others.' ..... The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written about in the newspapers.

"I ask myself again and again, what would have happened if, in the year 1933 or 1934 - all Protestant communities in Germany had defended the truth until their deaths? If we had said back then, it is not right when Hermann Göring simply puts 100,000 Communists [and drug dealers] in the concentration camps, in order to let them die. I can imagine that perhaps Protestant Christians would have had their heads cut off, but I can also imagine that we would have rescued 10 million people, because that is what it is costing us now."

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Supreme court, eh? (0)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752974)

Guess who they will side with. Go on, guess! Hint: rhymes with 'duck leedom.'

Re:Supreme court, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753054)

You think they'll side with Chuck Sleedom? I take it this would be a well know civil rights campaigner.

What about laptops? (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753016)

It becomes all too easy to track down a suspect and wait until he's moving his laptop around to arrest him then and search his computer without that pesky warrant procedure.

Re:What about laptops? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753294)

Correct.
And when I tell people I refused to let the TX Homeland Security search my car's trunk, they think I'm wacko. No. I am trying to stop the inexorable march towards the society described in 1984. Never, ever, never consent to a search of your car, your home, your laptop, or your person/papers/effects. "No warrant; No search." - ACLU of DC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLpSY8d3gRc [youtube.com]

Also worthy of watching is the "Don't Talk To Police" video uploaded by a law professor and a Virginia cop. A lot of people have spent 20-30 years in jail, because they said the wrong thing to a cop, and it was used to convict an innocent person.

Online services (1)

kylegordon (159137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753020)

What if you store everything on the net? Do the police know where the line stops, and only search the phone? Can they go on to rummage through your Facebook/LinkedIn/Exchange data?

This, of course, assumes you do everything online and you don't keep replicated synced copies on your phone.

Re:Online services (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753046)

What if you store everything on the net?

Then you forfeit your rights whether or not you are arrested.

Re:Online services (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753346)

This.

That's the problem with whining about the insignificant amount of data on your phone. It still hides the real problem, which is that you willingly gave the data to random third parties who promised to make your life better by "connecting you with friends" or "sharing your thoughts".

Where it gets interesting is if your phone has a gateway back to your own personal systems. Can the police traverse the link back to your house, and start reading what's on your hard disk via the phone? They may not even know they've "left" the phone's data and started using your network to do so. And can they traverse the other links back to your corporate email systems, and read company-sensitive stuff?

I'm wondering about training, though. Here we have an ordinary cop with full access to your phone, who has no computer forensic training and no oversight, and who can just stomp all over your data changing bits at will. And who's to say he isn't adding contact information showing your "obvious" known associations with Tony Soprano? Now he can suggest you're headed for Federal PMITA prison, unless you "cooperate". It's certainly easier to plant phony electronic "evidence" on the scene than cocaine or a smoking gun.

Re:Online services (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753228)

That makes it easier for them, not harder. Happened a lot of times that courts ordered Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or others to disclose user data. And not just in the US.

If you want to have really private info with you, better you have an app that encrypt it in a safe way.

Guess I should rename my contacts (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753048)

Most of the contacts in my phone are not by name but by nickname (and for some of them, I do not even know the real name). And some of their nicknames can be quite easily misunderstood.

So they can search the phone only? (4, Interesting)

whoda (569082) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753062)

What happens when they use the phone to log into email and facebook accounts to retrieve information that is NOT in the phone?
The police can't go enter your house just because they found the key in your pocket when you were arrested, they need a separate warrant to do that.

Re:So they can search the phone only? (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753204)

Yep. Nope. You have no rights to privacy or techno-toyz. Yo *zzwhole belongs to the Gub'mnt . So bend over ..... Chi.com factor Ming Chin will be serving you shortly.

Re:So they can search the phone only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753306)

I could see this argument standing up in court. Data retrieved from the phone is not on the person. If the police do anything to pull data from a server using the arrested person's account then they are in violation of the law.

Re:So they can search the phone only? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753308)

I suspect that that will be a new case. This was a case about searching text messages stroed on the phone in question. As such the ruling is reasonable, under previous Supreme Court rulings, if you were carrying an address book or a bunch of letters at the time of arrest the police could search those. This is a logical extension of that ruling. It is a separate debate as to whether that Supreme Court ruling was a good one or not.
The problem with this ruling is that the judges do not appear to have limited the search to just things stored on the phone. On the other hand, they, also, do not appear to have explicitly extended it to things the phone provides access to either. As a result, I am pretty sure they will take the case for review when the police use the phone to access things that are not on the phone itself.

On a slightly different take on this case, it will be interesting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court does take this case since the two conflicting rulings come from state courts, not federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court Justices may feel that the differences between these two rulings relate to differences in the state constitutions. On the other hand, I think it is likely that if they do take such a case it will be because they lean towards disagreeing with the ruling in this case.

Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to hide (2, Funny)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753080)

...then they shouldn't have gotten arrested.

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (2)

paramour (110003) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753182)

Is that you, Eric Schmidt?

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753186)

you're right they should resist arrest

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753420)

In theory, and ONLY in theory, the original arrest has to be lawful for a charge of resisting arrest to stand.

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753202)

You don't have to be GUILTY of a crime to be arrested.

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753302)

But there must be probable cause to suspect you are.

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (1)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753348)

Clearly, you're not familiar with police procedure.

And parent comment: woosh.

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753252)

"All suspects are guilty. Period. Otherwise, they wouldn't be suspect!"

That's also why I was wondering about why it at all matters what the defendants are charged with. Your constitutional rights don't change based on what you're accused of (although it can make a difference regarding whether those rights are violated, e.g. terrorism accusations).

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (1)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753392)

Your constitutional rights do change depend on what you're accused of, though. In civil forfeiture cases, a technicality of law is applied that doesn't technically accuse "you" of a crime, but rather accuses your property of a crime, and it's used to violate constitutional rights of defendants. Some would argue that that's all it's ever used for, and I think they're right.

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753360)

Right, because nobody who is innocent ever gets arrested or jailed. (sarcasm) BTW that saying works both ways: "If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn't mind government snooping on your internet usage or phone or personal effects." "If you have nothing to hide, then you politicians shouldn't fear wikileaks or other online press."

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (0)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753426)

I really didn't think my dig at this offensive procedure was all that subtle. What is this, 4chan, where subtlety goes to die and every joke has to be explained?

Re:Well, clearly if they didn't have anything to h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753404)

... innocent till proven guilty mean anything?

Yet another reason to shun smartphones (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753098)

Of course, not owning a smartphone could become probably cause for a search warrant some day, since you must obviously have something to hide.

Re:Yet another reason to shun smartphones (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753290)

I don't have a facebook account. I guess I should start running now.

They were jealous (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753132)

of what the TSA was able to do.

You know some of the rights you still have? Enjoy them while they last. They WILL be taken away from you. And for those who tell you to contact your representatives or vote differently: those are the exact same people who voted for this.

What is needed is actual use of the 2nd amendment and trow all politicians out and start over. The first time it worked. The government was disliked and was thrown out.

I know it won't happen. Not until it is too late. It has happened before (also in other countries) and it will happen again (also in the USofA).

Obviously... (3, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753138)

The judges that ruled in favor were not considering that when a person is taken into custody searched and examined, it is not for personal information, rather the safety for the officers and the accountability of returning and cataloging the property.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Obviously an immediate arrest is slightly different, but I would say after the arrest they could get a warrant. It wouldn't be impossible and actually quite easy.

Re:Obviously... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753260)

Problem seems to be flexibility in interpreting what is and isn't "reasonable".

"Stolen" phones (3, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753140)

So what if the phone is stolen? Does the person who originally owned the phone get to be violated twice, once when the phone was stolen and again when the cops go through their personal data? Actually I could see the cops doing exactly this, basically hire someone to steal a suspect/famous person/chief's ex-wifes phone and then "arrest" the person and go through the "stolen" cell phone getting whatever incriminating evidence they damn well please without all the hassle of having to go get a warrant.

Re:"Stolen" phones (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753332)

truly insightful. the fact that the guy who lost his phone (or 'lost' in quotes) now gets fucked twice is the kind of thinking the state did NOT do when considering trash laws like this.

we are too quick to make new laws for someone's convenience. its usually not in the peoples' best interests, is what I'm seeing.

rights of police: increasing
rights of citizens: decreasing

is that NOT the very essence of what a police state is?

representative government... MY ASS!

Items we are carrying.. (3, Interesting)

inthealpine (1337881) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753178)

So if the police can search not only the phone in a physical sense, but check the data on the phone or even remote connections to data not on my phone, doesn't that mean other items that 'access property' could be seen the same way? I have keys to my car and house those items are 'on my person' and can access my car (information) and my house (more information). Setting a precedent like this is not far fetched, I mean look at the new health care law (like it or love it) the federal government says it can make every US citizen buy a product because the precedent comes from the federal governments ability to regulate trade between states.

The constitution couldn't foresee computers or the internet (not that it needed to), but look at what the government does with individual rights when there is perceived uncertainty about peoples rights as it relates to data, we have none.
This is a slippery slope.

Re:Items we are carrying.. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753216)

even remote connections to data not on my phone

At what point did they rule that the police can do that?

Too bad an arrest != guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753224)

It makes no sense to allow this as it only gives police incentive to arrest persons not doing anything illegal with bogus charges that later get dropped and gives them an opportunity for a fishing expedition for other charges. There are so many asinine laws these days, I'd guess if you show me a citizen with a phone, I can show you someone breaking a law somewhere.

Quick! Call McNulty and Freeman! (2)

LandoCalrizzian (887264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753270)

This is great news! So when does season 6 of The Wire start?

huh. (1)

adampub (1969724) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753298)

Well, I would say thats a very interesting thing to do. Part of me wants to disagree with it, but then I realize that they generally do have a reason anyways. For example, doesn't that deprive them- just a little bit - of the human need for security? Then I contradicted myself with the thoughts of the fact that they don't really deserve security if they are only mistreating it anyways. An interesting read!

Huge briefcase full of papers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753300)

If you're arrested carrying a huge briefcase full of papers with all sorts of personal details ... isn't that your fault for carrying the thing around and not writing the papers in code? And even more so if the briefcase doesn't have a combination lock?

If they can check the inside of your butt... (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753370)

The idea that you lose privacy when you're under arrest is not a hard one to grasp. They can search your pockets, they can search the bag you're carrying, etc.

So if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753376)

they don't have a warrant, and your smartphone has an emergeancy 'self destruct data' app and you run it as you are being seized, then you cannot be guilty of any offense to do with the destruction of your records.

Not news (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753398)

They have probable cause. They can search your car, your house, your library of congress if you happen to own one and get arrested while in it. Our problem is the courts treating electronic devices as something special like in the recent case where the man was arrested for reading his wifes email. We certainly don't want them to continue that trend. This is a good ruling for us.

Use the bad logins and it's wiped setting. (1)

jfine (1938120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753402)

I love the feature where number of bad logins wipes the device.

Note to pay per use providers, add this feature to your phone and it'll sell like hot cakes!

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