Down with Warrantless Cell Phone Searches


Recent headlines have highlighted law enforcement’s recent push to be able to tap your home phone without a warrant. Fortunately, the Bush administration got a lot of bad press about this. Now they are coming for your cell phone as well.

Police are currently using a case out of California to push this agenda. A man by the name of Christian Taylor was arrested for identity fraud after attempting to buy approximately 30 Blackberry cell phones. A Sprint employee became suspicious about Taylor’s address and details about his company, Hype UniverCity. The employee called the police and Taylor was arrested. Taylor’s car was impounded and his iPhone was confiscated and searched by police without a warrant. A San Mateo county judge was scheduled to hear testimony yesterday about this case which may result in new rules for when police can search electronic devices for information without a warrant.

This brings up some interesting questions, one of which is what rules or guidelines can police follow for gathering information about us from cell phones, laptops, PDAs, and other electronic gadgets?

In my opinion, the police should no more have a right to search your cell phone or laptop without proper legal documents than they do to search your home. My laptop and/or cell phone is my cyber-residence, if you will, the place where I keep personal information similar to how I store paper documents at my physical residence. The police cannot come into my home and just rifle through my papers. Why do they and, unfortunately, the Obama administration want to skirt the law when it comes to similar personal information on my electronic devices? If warrantless searches of homes and tapping of land lines is wrong, it should be wrong for cell phones and other electronic devices as well. Period.

While we’re at it, let’s also finally dump the Patriot Act. It gives the government too much power and, as we’ve seen with the Bush and Obama administrations, it’s not always used for the purposes of simply protecting the people.

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