US Supreme Court to Rule on Smartphone Searches by Police
The US Supreme Court is expected to accept a petition to rule on the issue of whether the police can search the contents of a mobile phone without a specific warrant from a Judge.
The issue has been subjected to a number of legal challenges in various parts of the country, with some siding in favour of the need for a court order, and others against.
The issue stems from the fact that the police are allowed to inspect the contents of any item found on a person during an arrest. This has traditionally applied to wallets and bags, but there is confusion about how detailed an inspection can be made of the contents of a mobile phone.
Ordinarily, police would need a court order to inspect the contents of a computer, and smartphones are increasingly computer-like in their performance and in the information stored on them.
Following a number of set-backs, the Federal Government has now petitioned the Supreme Court to look into the matter and issue a definitive ruling.
The government argues that having a rule that allows some items found on a suspect to be searched, but not others is confusing and complicate police search powers.
Privacy campaigners argue that unlike most personal items carried around, a smartphone can contain vastly more personal information and as such that should be protected from casual browsing by the police.
If the Supreme Court approves the petition, it can be expected to issue a ruling next year.
On the web: Soctusblog