Somini Sengupta reports:
Judges and lawmakers across the country are wrangling over whether and when law enforcement authorities can peer into suspects’ cellphones, and the cornucopia of evidence they provide.
A Rhode Island judge threw out cellphone evidence that led to a man being charged with the murder of a 6-year-old boy, saying the police needed a search warrant. A court in Washington compared text messages to voice mail messages that can be overheard by anyone in a room and are therefore not protected by state privacy laws.
Read more on the New York Times.
Orin Kerr comments on the article:
Unfortunately, the story rather confusingly switches back and forth between considering at least three different legal questions:
1) What privacy protections the Fourth Amendment or statutes extend to the cell-location records generated by phone companies and stored by them, if the government comes to the phone company and wants the records of where the phone was located.
2) What privacy protections the Fourth Amendment or statutes extend to copies of text messages or e-mails that providers may have stored, if the government comes to the provider and wants to obtain copies of a suspect’s text messages or e-mails.
3) Whether the Fourth Amendment permits a warrantless search of the cell phone — and if so, how thoroughly — incident to a valid arrest.
Read more of his commentary on The Volokh Conspiracy.