An important privacy issue has been brewing of late. In these days of eroding Constitutional protections and important issue has developed that has to do with privacy and your mobile phone following an arrest. The police, in their unending battle to fight crime and lock up the bad people have taken to invading person’s privacy upon arrest by shamefully foraging through a defendant’s mobile phone looking for incriminating text messages, illegal pictures, contacts with known criminals, etc. Law abiding folks and those that appreciate our Constitutional protections in this country, as eroding as they may be, have been putting up a fight.
The important issue of mobile phone security/privacy made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States where the justices recently ruled on whether a person can expect some level of privacy regarding their phone contents upon arrest. On a side note, these smart phones do have locking mechanisms to keep prying eyes out so if one did wish to stay private it seems it might be a good idea to utilize such security features, and it is still a good idea despite the Court’s favorable ruling.
I digress, the Court actually found for the little guy in this decision, and decided that folks do have a recognizable privacy interest in their phones and if “the man” wishes to pry inside the digital enclave of a collar’s phone, they actually have to secure a search warrant to do so. This is good news because most arrests, like DUI for example, would not yield probable cause for a search warrant to issue and therefore the contents of one’s phone should remain private. Conversely, if a defendant was arrested for drug distribution for example, there very well may be probable cause for the cops to get a search warrant for that phone. Thus, the Supreme Court’s opinion in this case does recognize privacy and does the right thing to protect Joe citizen. If the cops have a legally cognizable need to search a phone they have a legal mechanism to do so, but they cannot willy-nilly go through the phone of every person they arrest for jaw walking, driving with suspended tags, or even DUI.
Since most people have private personal information on their phone, saying banking info for example, it is always a good idea to implement as much security on the phone as possible to keep prying eyes out, even police eyes and possibly even police eyes with a search warrant. I wonder how they get into the phone even with a warrant if the owner does not give them access to the password to the phone. So, if your privacy is important to you, and there are things that warrant security and privacy on your phone, even in light of this favorable opinion of the Court, it is always a good idea to secure your phone with a complex password and not to leave it vulnerable to prying, nosy eyes.