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Calif. Appeals Court Approves Cell Phone Searches

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the say-what's-your-unlock-code? dept.

Privacy 367

Local ID10T writes with this excerpt from The Blaze: "In a case explicitly decided to set a precedent, the California Appellate court has determined police officers can rifle through your cellphone during a traffic violation stop. ... Florida and Georgia are among the states that give no protection to a phone during a search. In particular, Florida law treats a smartphone as a 'container' for the purposes of a search, similar to say a cardboard box open on the passenger seat, despite the thousands of personal emails, contacts, and photos a phone can carry stretching back years. But after initially striking down cell phone snooping, California has now joined the list of states that allow cops to go through your phone without a warrant." Interesting additional commentary, too, from UCSD law professor Shaun Martin.

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Passcode (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624592)

Mine has a passcode on it. Problem officer?

Re:Passcode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624608)

No problem sir (pulling on rubber gloves) Just bend over.

Re:Passcode (2)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624612)

Hopefully this law didn't try to rewrite The 5th while giving the officer the ability to throw you into jail if you fail to comply.

Re:Passcode (5, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624642)

Florida law treats a smartphone as a 'container' for the purposes of a search, similar to say a cardboard box open on the passenger seat

I don't know Floridian law, but does the box have to be open? If that's the case, a pass-coded cellphone is technically a sealed box.

Re:Passcode (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624648)

Hopefully this law...

Yep. This sounds like legislation from the bench to me.

Re:Passcode (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624890)

Fifth Amendment protections sometimes extend to your stuff, but in a lot of cases they don't.

Re:Passcode (2)

TC Wilcox (954812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625266)

Hopefully this law didn't try to rewrite The 5th while giving the officer the ability to throw you into jail if you fail to comply.

5th Amendment to our *Federal* constitution. The 5th Amendment might prevent an FBI agent from going through your cell phone with a warrent. State and City Police might have completely different rules which is the whole reason there are three states which allow this sort of thing. Don't like it? Help support someone in your local politics who promises to change it!

Re:Passcode (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624624)

They buy special devices that plug in to the manufacturer specific port and rip the data that way. They don't always use the screen and keypad but rather swipe all the data at once and review it in the privacy of their office while laughing at your photos.

Better idea would be to hollow out part of the phone without stopping it from working and rewire the port to discharge a capacitor that hopefully ruins their machine.

Re:Passcode (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625000)

On the iPhone, if you can pull the data out with iFunBox, then the forensic tools can.

Similar with Android -- ADB access or access to the SD card will allow the phone to be dumped.

Re:Passcode (5, Informative)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624664)

They don't manually go through it. There are devices they plug into the usb/charger port if it's a smartphone and will download everything to the device. Doesn't matter if you have a password. More info here:
http://www.cellebrite.com/forensic-products/forensic-products.html?loc=seg [cellebrite.com]
Of course they'll keep the info, store it in their databases forever. Goodbye privacy.

Re:Passcode (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624778)

Yep it would need to have full-disk encryption just like a PC, with no unauthorized access to lower-level functions given physical access that can be done in a roadside stop at the very least. And you better use a damn good password now that quantum computers are on the market...

Re:Passcode (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625338)

Overrated! Oooh, the spooks are onto me! How exciting!

Re:Passcode (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624832)

Doesn't it rely on the phone though? My android pops up a requester asking whether I want to charge only or use as a disk drive. Presumably these devices use standard protocols.

Re:Passcode (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624842)

So where do we get a cell phone with real encryption?

Re:Passcode (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625060)

For now, all you can do is get a Blackberry. Which is such a big functionality tradeoff that it's almost like replacing your phone with a river rock.

Re:Passcode (3, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625340)

So where do we get a cell phone with real encryption?

More to the point, why have some of us allowed ourselves to be duped into any expectation of privacy or security with a device that can be swiped from your pocket and scraped for data in moments?

Probably just about any of us could secure data on our laptop machines in such a way as to make unauthorised recovery at least challenging. But (for the moment, at least) a phone is, well, pretty much just a phone with a few doodads on it to give us something to do other than playing minesweeper. The pervasiveness of mobile handsets and applications has way outstripped their rudimentary little safeguards, and anyone who entrusts anything important to such a device most likely deserves a salutary shock.

Re:Passcode (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624934)

This doesn't sound like a real "search and seizure" situation. This is a cop getting curious during a traffic stop. I doubt every car is equipped with a reader capable of downloading the contents of your phone. If you've left it vulnerable (no passcode) he can look through it just like any other container in the car, otherwise he'd have to seize it and take it back to the station. That's a whole different thing.

Police can get away with looking at things much more easily than they can taking them. Also, IIRC the iPhone and Blackberries can be encrypted. I don't know if the same is true for Androids but I assume at least some can be. That would make data retrieval without a warrant damn near impossible. The iPhone's encryption can be compromised with physical access, but again that's a far more significant breach of privacy and would seem to me to require a warrant. Then, of course, if the cops doesn't think to turn the device off, there's auto-wipe.

IANAL of course and all of this is just guess work, but I think that a passcode would be enough to prevent this kind of casual snooping in practice. Obviously if they have a warrant, all bets are off and much more can be done.

Re:Passcode (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625022)

I doubt every car is equipped with a reader capable of downloading the contents of your phone.

Yes, but how long until this becomes the standard?

Re:Passcode (2)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624976)

There's a difference between "such a device exists" and "They use a device". I believe those devices are possibly in use in Michigan which the ACLU is suing to find out more about, not in Florida.

Re:Passcode (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625120)

I wonder how something like this would stand up to a fully encrypted phone with something like this, though: http://www.whispersys.com/whispercore.html [whispersys.com]

Re:Passcode (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624822)

No problem sir (pulling out device that backdoors your phone and copies all contents).

Oh, we also have a legal right to your encryption keys. If you fail to provide them, you are guilty of obstruction of justice and face heavy fines and possible jail time.

That might be sufficient (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624982)

a recent ruling threw out evidence collected from a person computer because the cop moved the mouse which in turn disabled a screen saver which in turn revealed incriminatory evidence. So if your phone is not displaying anything it may not be able to be searched.

In other words, a pass code with a neutral background may be sufficient to protect you should it reach court and something on the phone was incriminating.

http://volokh.com/2011/09/27/taking-a-computer-out-of-screensaver-mode-to-see-suspects-facebook-wall-as-a-fourth-amendment-search/ [volokh.com]

Also this site, http://www.fourthamendment.com/blog/ [fourthamendment.com] is not a bad resource when you want to see what happens with search and seizure cases.

Easy solution... (2)

netrage_is_bad (734782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624632)

Don't give them permission to search your car.

Re:Easy solution... (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624682)

That doesn't always help - they may search it illegally, or (as Shaun Martin argues) invent a completely fake excuse to allow them to search it. In this case, it was a completely fake "drug tip". Also quite common is to call in the police dog, order the dog to false-alert when walking near the vehicle, and search based on that.

Now, you should still not give permission to search, that's absolutely true. But especially if you're not a straight clean-cut educated white guy, don't be all that surprised if they trample on your rights.

Re:Easy solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624710)

Yeah, because police are terribly racists people like yourself.

Re:Easy solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624874)

Living as white male in a predominately black neighborhood I would say they are significantly more racist than I am...

Re:Easy solution... (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624968)

What the hell are you on? The poster said nothing about race, but just let your imagination run wild then think it is reality.

Re:Easy solution... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624828)

Also quite common is to call in the police dog, order the dog to false-alert when walking near the vehicle, and search based on that.

Now, you should still not give permission to search, that's absolutely true. But especially if you're not a straight clean-cut educated white guy, don't be all that surprised if they trample on your rights.

I'm a clean cut white guy and I've had the K-9 "alert" on my car and been searched twice, and no drugs were found either time.

I don't understand why the work of a DOG is enough to violate my rights. The dog will alert if the handler gives the command to alert. This isn't evidence and should be disallowed in court.

Cops LIE and courts need to become confortable with that fact. The "War on Drugs" has done more to damage our rights than the Patriot Act ever did.

Re:Easy solution... (3, Interesting)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624870)

Now, you should still not give permission to search, that's absolutely true. But especially if you're not a straight clean-cut educated white guy, don't be all that surprised if they trample on your rights.

Or if you have a Ron Paul bumper sticker [libertycoalition.net] on your car.

Re:Easy solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624760)

Easier solution

wget goatse.cx > /dev/phone

Re:Easy solution... (4, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625070)

Apparently, in the situation of this case, they did not need permission to search his car. They searched his car under the guise of doing an inventory of what was in it before they towed it so that they would know if anything was stolen at the impound yard. In this case, if he had given them permission to search his car, I would accept them searching his phone when they found it. Basically, one they started searching his car, each step along the way they found something that gave them probable cause to look more closely at other things they found. They found a gun positioned to be easily drawn and fired by the driver (I know several people who carry guns for self-defense, they rarely position the gun for "quick" draw, they generally expect that if they need the gun they will be in a situation that escalates slowly enough for them to access the gun from some place that is less than the optimal place to draw and fire). They then found drug paraphanalia. When they looked at the phone they found a wallpaper picture on the phone of a masked person resembling the driver brandishing two assault weapons.
However, I have a problem with their justification for searching the car in the first place.

Re:Easy solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625282)

I used to drive a tow truck many years ago and this has been standard practice for a very long time. It comes from lawsuits claiming expensive merchandise(or cash) was present in the car prior to towing and is now missing. So, in order to stop fraudulent claims it was mandated that any police tow to impound required an inventory prior to being moved so no claim that items were stolen in transit could be made.

If during the inventory other items were found that would lead to further investigation that is the way it goes, but the initial inventory is valid and standard procedure.

Re:Easy solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625292)

I'm curious if they will demand your phone if it's in your pocket instead of sitting in the car?

This ruling does not last long. (5, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624636)

As a result of the Court's ruling, the legislature overruled the court by passing a law that provides privacy protection for mobile devices.

See http://www.californiality.com/2011/09/california-mobile-device-privacy-law.html [californiality.com]

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624738)

Why not just set a PIN number on your phone? Can you be compelled to give them that during a stop?

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624776)

The devices police have access to bypass any security locks or pins you have on your phone, as one poster above me stated: http://www.cellebrite.com/forensic-products/forensic-products.html?loc=seg [cellebrite.com]

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624878)

"Cellebrite has implanted a real time decryption engine to interpret encrypted data from user partitions of devices running iOS 4.x." but "In case the device is passcode protected, the passcode is required in order to perform real-time decryption."

("A 4 digit numerical code set by the user. The simple passcode is the default type, and can be recovered by UFED Physical Analyzer.")

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625030)

Just as an aside, you can use longer numerical passcodes on the iPhone, and not have to use the full keyboard. Just set your 5+ digit code and use all numbers, and the next time it gets used, it will pop up the numeric keypad, and an OK button, similar to how it asks for the SIM PIN (if one sets that.)

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624906)

But doesn't it offer legal protection? Police I am sure have the ability to pick locks too but that doesn't mean they would be allowed to pick a locked box on your passenger seat during a routine search right?

The cardboard box would not be open and thus they should need a warrant.

But then I don't know the USA laws. I'm just guessing

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624918)

It would be interesting to snoop in on that device in operation, see what it does/get the codes. Could allow you to fully unlock your hardware.

Re:This ruling does not last long. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624790)

Why not just set a PIN number on your phone? Can you be compelled to give them that during a stop?

The PIN is not needed, their extraction technology bypasses everything but strong encryption.

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624808)

PINs don't always mean encryption.
If your phone isn't encrypted, the police forensic devices will bypass the PIN.

Re:This ruling does not last long. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624900)

The damage to the 4th amendment is done. Our right to be free from unreasonable searches should not depend on the vagaries of elected representatives, but should be (AND IS!!!) enshrined in our very constitution.

No reasonable person could believe that this search is reasonable. Our courts are completely off the rails. If they can't enforce the constitution, we have no legitimate government left.

Re:This ruling does not last long. (1)

sheehaje (240093) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625368)

It is time for a revolution... But which quacks shall I follow?

Does it stop at the phone? (3, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624640)

iPad or laptop?

What if your device contains attorney-client privileged material or other sensitive documents?

Re:Does it stop at the phone? (2)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624730)

Encrypt the contents of the device and password protect its access. Even if they pull all the data off the phone they can't do much with it if its encrypted.

Re:Does it stop at the phone? (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624758)

Good question. I guess that one would reasonably expect that the cel-phone owner having legal, though sensitive information on a mobile phone or other mobile device, that the one would password-protect that information, and/or would otherwise secure it so as to safeguard the interests of anyone who may be negatively affected if that information was released or otherwise viewed beyond its natural context. I wouldn't imagine the decision sets a precedent in regards to that.

Hardware Duress Mode (3, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624646)

They get a very sanitized version of the phone, you get to keep your privacy - all while complying with their order.

Re:Hardware Duress Mode (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624856)

TrueCrypt would actually allow this.

The big problem with TrueCrypt is that it doesn't allow you to perform lower-level maintenance operations (like fsck) on partitions. Yes even if you unmount the mountpoint and try to fsck / fdisk the device under /dev/mapper/ it won't be recognized. This is why I changed my home backup drives to dm-crypt/luks.

Re:Hardware Duress Mode (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625202)

The big problem with TrueCrypt is that it doesn't allow you to perform lower-level maintenance operations (like fsck) on partitions. Yes even if you unmount the mountpoint and try to fsck / fdisk the device under /dev/mapper/ it won't be recognized. This is why I changed my home backup drives to dm-crypt/luks.

I'm sorry, I don't understand your issue. You can perform any and all file operations you require on a mounted volume, including defrag, formatting, file system checks etc. You can't do that when the volume isn't mounted because the entire volume is garbage to the OS. It has no file system to check.

Am I missing something?

Re:Hardware Duress Mode (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625272)

I think you are...if you try to perform a check on a totally unmounted TC partition it will look like a blank hard drive full of garbage. If you mount the partition (device mapped to /dev/mapper/whatever, then /dev/mapper/whatever mounted on /media/whatever) then obviously you can't fsck it or you'd destroy it. If you unmount /media/whatever and try to fsck /dev/mapper/whatever, the partition is still unrecognizable to fsck (and fdisk, and gparted...).

Opinion (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624650)

Here's a link to the actual opinion: http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2011/ca-phonesearch.pdf

Use a password (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624656)

I assume that if you password-protect your phone, you can refuse to give the password to the police since it might be a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights -- right?

Re:Use a password (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624714)

Right. They would need a court order for you to reveal your password.

Re:Use a password (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624718)

Fail. You shouldn't need a password, any more than you should need to live in a vault in order to stop the police kicking down your door and turning over your home without a warrant simply because they happen to deem it a "reasonable" (pronounced the same as "convenient") search.

Re:Use a password (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625092)

An excellent analogy, but let's be practical here. You can either encrypt your phone or try to improve your civil rights in a country with a two-party political system where neither party is too hot on them. Which one's easier?

Re:Use a password (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625172)

Simply stop a few congress critters, rifle through their possessions, scan their phones, place all contents online via wikileaks, and let's see how long these illegal searches continue.

Re:Use a password (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625196)

A password does have the advantage that it protects your portable secrets from other bad actors.

I totally agree that the police should not be making casual searches of phones (or anything else), I'm just saying that people carrying around consequential secrets probably don't have to get to the point where they are deciding whether the government is going to follow certain principles or not.

Re:Use a password (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624752)

Passwords do not really matter. Their scanning device bypasses passwords.
the link about this [thenewspaper.com] :
A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

"Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags," a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device's capabilities. "The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.

Re:Use a password (2)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624774)

Of course with the Legislature passing the mobile phone privacy law, this discussion is all academic, but I don't think so. The Fifth lets you refuse to *testify* against yourself. It does not say anything about letting you refuse to give the government the key to a locked box that they want to legally search (which would be the 18th century analogue to a password-protected phone). Especially in light of the court finding (wrongly, IMO) that phones don't count as far as illegal search and seizure goes, it's highly unlikely that they would find that the 5th means anything at all, much less that it means you can withhold the key.

Re:Use a password (1)

rerogo (1839428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625176)

Except that a physical key is "something you have", whereas a password is "something you know." A search warrant allows them to make off with physical objects, but a password is just bits in your head.

Of course, whether the court sees it that way is anyone's guess.

Re:Use a password (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625210)

Since they already don't care the least about the Fourth, I don't see why they'd care about Fifth. And since they didn't care about Second as well, even that recourse is now gone.

RIP Bill Gates (1955-2011). (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624676)

Disclaimer: some of us find humor takes some of the sadness away).

California Uber Alles (2, Insightful)

Gimbal (2474818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624688)

Dead Kennedys for Emperor. That is all.

Easy solution: blackberry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624702)

Turn on device encryption & set a password.

The contents are now protected with AES - good luck cracking that.

Re:Easy solution: blackberry (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624820)

Your phone has that option...?

encryption (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624712)

and if the content on your phone is encrypted, can they force you to give up the keys? all because you ran a stop sign this is quite stupid. cops aren't qualified to do computer searches. you can hide stuff on your phone they will never ever find

Re:encryption (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624846)

Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:encryption (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625096)

Look up UFED / Cellebrite. This gives a lot of power to the lowest level of cop.

Very dangerous... I'm quite sure (because of the sheer number of laws) the average person has something which could be construed as illegal, embarrassing or sensitive on their smartphone. What's that quote about six lines of text and an honest person?

"Can" or "must"? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624736)

If the police must act on specific grounds, then there's a defensible (and correspondingly, attackable) justification for the action. If the police are simply given an additional, flexible and wide-ranging power (perusing your cellphone) to use whenever a completely irrelevant situation (a traffic stop) arises, then there's a massive opportunity for abuse. You can probably guess whose cellphone pics are more likely to get snooped through on a traffic stop.

Said it already... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624740)

My next phone will need to have full-disk encryption. I could do it on my N900 but it's a massive amount of work and I can't spare the processing power either.

Re:Said it already... (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624772)

So it can be done?

Just overclock it and get an extended battery.

Re:Said it already... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624810)

Hah I've been trying to overclock, but I can't get around this bug [maemo.org] in the kernel - and me and another guy tried custom-coding a solution with no luck. I tried the power kernel with the bleeding-edge wifi drivers but after a while it wouldn't see any APs and I'd have to reload the drivers. It was way too much of a PITA so I had to go back to the stock kernel and drivers.

Re:Said it already... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624830)

Just overclock it and get an extended battery.

So simple even your granny could do it!

Re:Said it already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624958)

My next phone will need to have full-disk encryption. I could do it on my N900 but it's a massive amount of work and I can't spare the processing power either.

Blackberry has offered this for over a decade. Turn on device encryption & set a password. You're now protected with AES. Good luck cracking that.

Re:Said it already... (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625016)

Yes but the Blackberry's a useless locked-in POS.

Why not just have fun with it? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624796)

Nothing stopping you from getting a pay as you go phone filled with messages about how much you love police rifling through your contacts and emails. All contacts are for dunkin' donuts in a 50 mile radius. Switch real phone off, turn honeypot phone on. Jobs a good 'un.

A note on the additional commentary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624806)

"On that same theory, getting busted for a DUI would permit police to search your home, right? Read your diary. Look through all your pictures. You might have pictures and diary entries in there that prove that you're a cokehead too, after all. So that counts as probable cause too?"

If you get busted over here (small-ish country in yurp, I'm sure the neighbours aren't any better), then you can count on the police searching your home and whatever else of yours they get their grubby mitts on just in case, for nashonal shecurity, or some such other reason. Partly in response to all this anti-terrorism pressurizing of governments a certain country has shared with the world. So yeah. You go and clean up the mess at home and then change the tune you're pressuring the rest of the world with back to liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, not just for haliburton contractors with american citizenship, please.

Re:A note on the additional commentary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624826)

You can't blame USA for everything, you know. We're not exactly setting a good example, but you have to take responsibility for your own government's abuses.

Not searchable during a routine traffic stop (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624884)

Maybe I'm missing something, but most of the outrage I see on the original story's comments is about the idea that you get pulled over for speeding and they'll go through your cell phone. It reads to me like as part of arrest processing instead. Which means if you are just getting a warning or a traffic ticket this doesn't apply. Initially I thought it was going to be a story about how an officer looked at a phone's history to see if the person was texting while driving, but this I don't think that is it. If something is in your car when you get arrested, it's part of a natural search area. If there was a locked safe in the trunk, they'd be opening that too. Why is cell phone more important than a safe?

Re:Not searchable during a routine traffic stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625192)

In the article, he was pulled over and given a field sobriety test, once he failed that then his phone was searched. Not even arrested at this point and back at the station simply detained.

Re:Not searchable during a routine traffic stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625284)

You can only put so much in a safe. And how far can they go? Auto login to your facebook account and check through that? I know people who have everything accessible through their phone. Simple traffic stop and they get to rifle through your entire life?

welcome to the living Constitution (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624894)

"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."

If this doesn't cover a cell phone carried on your person, it doesn't cover anything. We should really be more careful when we choose judges. We need to make sure they all know how to read.

Re:welcome to the living Constitution (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625302)

We should really be more careful when we choose judges.

In California's system, the governor appoints judges who then have to make it through an election. All evidence suggests the governors are being careful, just careful to pick judges that a reliably pro-police.

Re:welcome to the living Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625316)

You're obviously holding a few judges to a higher standard that they are capable of.

Clearly corruption is accendent in this country (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624938)

The courts are moving in the direction of greater and greater corruption. At least there was a bright spot recently when an appeals court said that calling the video taping of the police "wire tapping" was an outright lie by the law enforcement community. Clearly that judge doesn't get it.

Password Protected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624950)

Is the device considered open if it is password protected? Or can you be forced to give the police your password so they can look through it?

Data stored remotely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624988)

So... What if the phones has login information stored on it to access data at a remote location. Do they get to search the data at the remote location, just because the phone has access to it (but it wasn't stored on the phone).

Wouldn't this be like searching my house, because I had my key on me?

Re:Data stored remotely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625114)

Believe it or not, yes.

In the UK, they can ask for the login information, even the password for root to remote machines, and failing to give that to them results in a jail sentence. All the judge has to do is:

Judge: "What is the root password for ace1.bigcorp.com?"
Defendant: "Can't give that out."
Judge: "What is the root password for ace2.bigcorp.com?"
Defendant: "Sorry."
Judge: "What is the domain administrator password for bigcorp.com?"
Defendant: "Don't know it."
Judge: "What is the enable password for the edge router at bigcorp.com. You have a login here."
Defendant: "Sorry."

In less than five minutes, the judge has assigned a life sentence to someone in a UK gaol.

Yet another reason to not have a cellphone (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624992)

As Stallman said, "Cell phones are Stalin's dream". Yes, you young whippersnappers, you can survive without a cell phone.... But I am sure the day will come where we will all be required to carry a GPS enabled phone (and a car transponder with GPS and a camera), but I plan to enjoy these last few years of freedom....

I'm going to start carrying my old phone... (1)

Lashat (1041424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625046)

with the smashed screen. "Here ya go Officer Mister. Hey, what did you do to my phone?"

time to go back to burner phones (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625078)

Maybe it's time for the phone to go back to being just a phone. It'd certainly be cheaper, and this *is* a down economy.

Proposition (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625088)

Since California is a state with direct democracy through initiatives/propositions, I foresee a ballot measure outlawing this behavior in the near future. Say what you will about CA, but if we find something we don't like we'll circumvent the politicians and do it ourselves.

Red Button (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625104)

I now see a market for phones with a red button. Shift-Red Button resets phone back to factory spec and wipes SD card. Oops, officer! Here you go. (BTW, I know most smart phones come with a three-finger-salute, but a big red button looks so cool)

Let's take another tack (1)

slaker (53818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625188)

Why keep anything important on a smartphone to begin with?

Yes, it's nice to access my e-mails from months or years ago, and it's handy to have pictures on the SD card, but if you're concerned about privacy, why not set the your phone up to have e-mails forwarded from an account with a password that isn't stored on the phone, and to delete messages shortly after they're read? That's how I manage mail on my phone and it works well enough for my purposes.

I suspect there are similar ways to offload calendar, contact and photos for anyone paranoid enough to need that. If someone snarfed all the data off my phone, they'd get at most 24 hours worth of e-mail and about 30GB of classical music. C'est la vie.

decoy and drone phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625218)

just have a second phone that is loaded with goo and when the cop takes it back to his cruiser, super glue spreads out of it and he can't get his greedy hands off the 'evidence' ha ha ha ha ha... or rather oink oink oink oink oink

Cell phones are papers, not containers (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625248)

Cell phones, laptops, flash drives, disks, and tapes are not "containers" because you cannot put any physical object into them. This is clearly what they 4th amendment means by "papers." I can't imagine what a police officer would search for in your cell phone if you are stopped for a traffic violation. Why would they even *want* to look?

Just a reminder here:

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.

Can someone explain to me what an officer can search your without a warrant, based on the text of the 4th amendment? The officer did not have a warrant, made no oath or affirmation, and did not describe the place to be search or the things to be seized. My instincts tell me that the authors of this text did not expect that a government employee could demand to search their horse or coach without a warrant. Am I mistaken here?

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