Recently, the US government was involved in a world shocking scandal (one of many; they are beginning to be too many to count) about the abuse of government owned technology to spy on its citizens. In light of this, the ruling by the Supreme Court on Wednesday comes as a respite for those worried about protecting their privacy in this digital age. The Supreme Court has ruled that US police officials do not have the right to search the cell phones of people whom they arrest without first obtaining a proper search warrant.
The police have no right for wild goose chases.
Protecting Privacy in a Digital World
In today’s times, a cell phone is not merely a tool used for communication. According to Chief Justice John Roberts, they are “not just another technological convenience,” but a ubiquitous presence that contain vast amounts of personal information about a person. In fact, the judge compared these slick devices to powerful computers that store sensitive information.
He said; “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life”. Keeping this in mind the court has decided to send a powerful message to the police and to criminal defense lawyers to be in the clear before they go about rummaging through a suspect’s cell phone and its contents. The chief justice did acknowledge that such a strict ruling will have consequences for the law enforcement agencies, but as he rightly said, “Privacy comes at a cost.”
Even if the US police officials are not going gaga over this recent decision, criminal defense lawyers have just found a new strong weapon for protecting their client’s rights to privacy. The ruling of course does not extend to earlier decisions from the 1970’s when cell phone technology was unheard of and police officials were within their rights to empty the pockets of the arrested suspect and search its contents. This was done to ensure the safety of the police officials at the scene, and also to prevent any chances of evidence tampering by the suspect.
Obama Administration Defends Cell Phone Searches
The Obama administration and the state of California, has previously defended cell phone searches by saying that a cell phone found on the suspect should not have greater protection than any other items found on the person. However, in a watershed ruling that favored criminal defense attorneys, civil libertarians, librarians and news media groups, the Supreme Court of the country counteracted the government’s claim by saying that cell phones – especially smart phones – have plenty of personal and sensitive information and police may not generally go through the contents of the phone unless a warrant is at hand.
George Washington did not believe in Big Government
This make sense because why should police have access to all that information. If they are just searching for someone carrying a gun, knife, or some document, that does not have anything to with their cell phone. The cell phone being searched in this manner according to many is beyond the scope. This is not Cuba; Americans have rights and the right to privacy according to most Americans and the constitution.
The ACLU is Actually Right this Time
“By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today’s decision is itself revolutionary and will help to protect the privacy rights of all Americans,” this is from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) top legal mind Steven Shapiro. Many people agree with the ACLU here but not when the ACLU defends pedophiles and sides with people and causes that are pitiful and harmful to America.
The ACLU is actually right on this one but even a broken watch is right twice a day.
The decision will protect cell phones from being searched without a warrant in the future, but it may not have much effect in pending cases, or for those defendants whose convictions are final, said Gerry Morris of Austin, Texas, a vice president for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.