A Passcode Won’t Protect You

By Rosenblum, Schwartz, Rogers & Glass, P.C. of Rosenblum, Schwartz, Rogers & Glass, P.C. posted in Fourth Amendment on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.

This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie. The issue before the court is, do the police need to obtain a warrant before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest?

Our phones are not just rotary-dialed means of voice communications any more. They are windows into our lives. They contain our text messages and emails. They provide access to our social networks and friends. They have our pictures, home movies, personal notes and diaries.

It should give us all pause that the Justice is department is seeking the broadest possible right to peruse those phones and those files. They like to coach their demand in terms of going after drug dealers, gunrunners, and the like. But an exception crafted to catch the very bad guys will be applied to the little bad guys. Which won’t be the intent, but who cares. And it will be applied to the innocent as well. It is just that the innocent will not get their day in court, because they’ll go home, the victim of a little violation of their privacy.

Many, if not most, will say, "I don’t have anything to hide." But are they sure of that? In a world where the average person can stumble into three felonies a day, they better be pretty sure of that.

Because the feds are hoping for a world where they have access to everything stored on your phone, whenever they happen to have a chance to look.