Police Now Need Warrant To Search Cell Phones, Locals Weigh In
GAINESVILLE - This week the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police are required to obtain search warrants before searching cell phones of those who are arrested. It's a first of its kind decision in the digital age.
You carry more than you think in your pockets or your purse. Many phones contain people's personal and sensitive information. The court is now giving 4th amendment protection to the personal data we carry in our hands.
No warrant? No cell phone search. For many, cell phones are not just another technological convenience. Gainesville resident, Michael Prizament said, "Before you even started talking to me I was using my phone for like two hours straight and probably as soon as you leave I will continue to be using it for the rest of the day. So it's like literally the most critical part of my life.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9 to 0 that police may not search the cellphones of people they arrest without getting search warrants first. Jon Mills a former dean at UF's Levin College of Law and the author of the book, "Privacy: The Lost Right," believes that the digital revolution has changed people's expectations of privacy. "I think this is a landmark case in that the court has recognized that information and collected information is part of a person's actual right to privacy," Mills said.
And some local residents agree. "You should probably need a warrant. It's effectively the same thing as going to somebody's house… cause before you had a smartphone or before you had any phone-- this would be the equivalent of listening in on somebody's conversation, so I think this is a necessary part of privacy that should be maintained," Prizament said.
Mills says this is a major victory for privacy rights in the digital age. "The analogy is that it's even more intrusive to look at even a little tiny object like a cell phone than it may be to intrude on other spaces," Mills added.
Bruce and Lori Gusman, the couple we spoke to had mixed emotions about the ruling. Bruce asked him wife, "You'd give yours up without a search warrant?” His wife said, “I would give mine up without a search warrant.” And Bruce answered, “I like the idea of having a search warrant to give my phone away. I just do."
Lori is worried that obtaining a search warrant may delay a serious investigation. "I have nothing to hide on my phone… if I am being accused of something and my phone is going to be the ticket to get me out of whatever issue it is then use my phone, here take it, there's nothing there," she said.
If you're wondering what other countries are doing. In Canada the Supreme Court ruled the same as the U.S. Justices last year. However in Britain searching cell phones without a warrant is a routine.
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