Friday, February 6, 2009

The admissibility of a warrantless cell phone search

Do you store sensitive information on your cell phone? And by sensitive, we could mean names, phone numbers, photographs, and even personal "journal" entries. Chances are the answer is yes. And chances are that, if you're pulled over and your cell phone rings the arresting officer could be within his rights to answer your phone and search it for anything incriminating.

Right now, case law is split. The cases that experts are keeping track of generally involve drug users, drug runners, and their suppliers... and the arresting officer detected illicit drugs in the vehicle and took the driver & passengers into custody. It was when they were in custody that the phone rang, leading the officers to take possession of the phone and search it for clues.

I suspect that most of my readers don't engage in that sort of activity, which greatly reduces the chances of actually getting searched, handcuffed and carted away. But it can happen (think again before drinking and driving, friends) and if it does, your cell phone -- and all of the information on it -- might be used in any manner of criminal fishing expedition.

Read more at C-Net: Courts Split on handheld search

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting you mention this. It reminds me of a rather upsetting experience I had with Canadian customs when I visited Vancouver in 2007. Among the searches I and another Amtrak passenger were subjected to was a customs agent searching through my cellphone address book.