Mixed Decisions Concerning Police Searches Of Your Mobile Phone On Arrest

from the legal-or-not? dept

A year ago, we had a lively discussion around here concerning the legal question of whether or not police could search your mobile phone if you are stopped for a traffic violation. It seems that the question is far from settled. Declan McCullagh details two separate lawsuits in which judges came to opposite conclusions about the rights of police to search mobile phones or other devices on persons being arrested. It's clearly allowed to search through physical belongings -- but when it comes down to digital belongings, it's not at all clear. It comes down to the same issue being debated concerning laptop searches at the border. Traditional law concerning such searches assumes that what you have on you is stuff you purposely chose to bring on that trip. However, in a digital age, where your devices "keep everything" the opposite is true. You automatically bring everything and only exclude that which you purposely choose to leave out. Thus, the old laws don't really make much sense and could lead to some dangerous and highly questionable scenarios. Hopefully, the courts will recognize this before too long.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: mobile phones, searches, warrants


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2009 @ 6:18pm

    Re: No Way

    "The police do not have the right to search your car on a traffic stop"

    Try telling that to the officer who pulled you over because he sees that you are a white female with a black male in the passenger seat.

    The officer will start off with a, "Mamm, is everything okay tonight?" question. And then followup with a, "Sir, how do you know this woman?" question.

    Gotta love LAPD!!!

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Sponsored Promotion
Public Money, Public Code - Sign The Open Letter at publiccode.eu
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.