Cops Can Search California Cell Phones Without Warrant

Judges in the Golden State say you lose the privacy of your mobile device upon any arrest.

Got a few text messages you'd rather the men in blue not see? The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the cops can search your cell phone without a warrant. Could this go all the way to the Federal Supreme Court? The Associated Press reports that's possible:

The state court ruled 5-2 that U.S. Supreme Court precedent affirms that police can search items found on defendants when they are arrested. However, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that in 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ruled that police could not search the cell phones of drug defendants without a warrant.

The Ohio Supreme Court also found in 2009 that police did not have that right. California Deputy Attorney General Victoria Wilson, who represented the prosecution in the case decided Monday, told the newspaper the split opinions in California and Ohio could lead the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the cell phone issue.


Call us alarmist, but does anyone out there think this is yet another good reason to password protect your mobile device?

The California Supreme Court decided the loss of privacy upon arrest extends beyond the arrestee's body to include personal property. Authorities can not only seize items but also can open and examine what they find, the ruling said.


image (cc) via Flickr user moriza