Supreme Court limiting access to cell phone searches


KIMT News 3 –  The U.S. Supreme Court is issuing a new ruling, and it has to do with your cell phone and your privacy.

“The courts are struggling right now with technology. How to apply privacy interest and balance that with the need for law enforcement,” says Cerro Gordo Assistant County Attorney Blake Norman.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court took a step in regulating one very telling piece of technology.

“A cell phone has so much more information on it than what you may usually have on your person, like your wallet or your keys,” says Norman.

Information that is personal. Which is why the Supreme Court ruled that in order to look through cell phones, investigators must first obtain a search warrant.

“It allows for a judge, or a magistrate in our county, to say, I think that there is probable cause for you officer, to go ahead and look to see if there is any crime related information in there,” says Norman.

Sheriff, Kevin Pals says his county has already been doing this when it comes time to investigate, and typically these warrants are not hard to obtain.

“I think most people that are being stopped with cell phones, law enforcement has the probable cause to believe that criminal activity is afoot, so I think they would be able to get a search warrant anyway,” says Pals.

While this is a new ruling, law enforcement officers everywhere are used to this sort of thing.

“ With these rulings, we’re kind of used to it, whether it’s searching phones, searching a car, or searching a house,” says Pals.

He says one thing is for sure though, it’s worth that extra effort because cell phones are unlike any other form of evidence.

“If people have photos on there, sometimes illegal activities; like felons in possession of firearms, sex offenders in possession of pornography for child pornography, we’ve got names and numbers or street names and numbers of people who are doing criminal activity,” says Pals.

“That is the goal of law enforcement, to prevent crime, and technology allows us tools to do that,” says Norman.


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