Police Need Warrant to Seize, Inspect Cellphones, FL High Court Rules


At a time when smartphones have become the storehouse of everyone's personal information, can an arresting officer seize yours and rummage through its contents, then maybe call your business associates and poke your Facebook friends? Not anymore without a search warrant, the Florida Supreme Court ruled yesterday, says the Miami Herald. Thursday. That ruling was applauded as a landmark by civil libertarians and defense attorneys, who argued that the state's archaic search warrant laws have become outdated in a digital age where people collect endless amounts of personal information on their cellphones.

“What the court is doing is standing up for what little privacy is left in America by saying police don't have the right to invade our whole life without the authorization of the courts first,'' said Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, “There is going to be evidence that is not going to be obtained because of this decision,'' Gualtieri said Thursday after the Supreme Court decision. “It takes about four hours to get a search warrant — that's just the way it is. Cases are going to become more difficult to prosecute.''

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