Supreme Court Ruling Shields Privacy of Cell phones - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Supreme Court Ruling Shields Privacy of Cell phones

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A major Supreme Court ruling Wednesday, regarding your privacy and technology.
The high court unanimously ruled that police officers must first get a search warrant, before searching your cell phone.

Because of how much information we have in our cell phones, we now have a right to keep whatever is on our cell phones private, unless a judge issues a warrant.

The unanimous Supreme Court ruling Wednesday, comes after two defendants argued that a search of their phones violated their 4th Amendment rights.
The courts found that both searches were unconstitutional.  

Right now, if you're arrested, officers routinely pat you down for weapons, and ask you to empty your pockets.
They can look for weapons, drugs, and stolen items, they can also take your cell phone.

But Justices ruled Wednesday that smart phones have so much information on them, they are different than everything else we carry.

So, the high court ruled police cannot look through a smart phone's call records, contacts, emails, browsing history, texts or photos without first getting a judge-issued search warrant.

We got reaction from a local defense attorney, and Erie's Police Chief.

"The courts have recognized the privacy interests of us and individuals, our rights of privacy and the information that we store on our cell phones," said Defense Attorney Gene Placidi. "The pattern in the last few years has been to restrict individual rights, but at the same time this was a pretty straight forward right to privacy argument," Placidi added.

"For law enforcement, if the phone is needed to continue the investigation then it's a step that we're going to have to take because it's the law of the land now," said Erie Police Chief Randy Bowers. "I don't think it'll stop an officer from obtaining the information on a phone if it's really needed. But, it's going to mean taking the extra step of getting a search warrant approved before they get that information," Chief Bowers added.

The Supreme Court acknowledged this ruling will have in impact on officers trying to fight crime, but said the right to privacy, "comes at a cost."
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