Source: Ariane de Vogue / ABC News
The founding fathers weren’t exactly experts on issues like cloud storage, so Supreme Court justices often struggle with applying old, established rules to emerging technology.
On Tuesday, the high court will hear two cases that ask a variation of this question: Does a police officer need a warrant when searching a cell phone during a lawful arrest?
Lower courts have split on the issue. Courts upholding the warrantless searches have relied, at times, on a 1973 Supreme Court precedent that privacy advocates say doesn’t contemplate modern technology. The search of a smart phone today can reveal much more than the last call dialed. Many devices contain videos, photographs, GPS information, cloud storage, financial documents and even a link to a webcam in a private home.
“Every cell phone at a crime scene is a really valuable piece of evidence, and now there is a cell phone at every crime scene,” said Peter A. Modafferi, chief of detectives at the district attorney’s office in Rockland County, N.Y.. He insisted that a “digital footprint” can be enormously helpful at an arrest and waiting for a warrant can be dangerous.
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