Law authorities in several U.S. States (including, but not limited to California, Florida and Georgia) are pulling over motorists and then using devices designed to extract information from the cellphones of motorists.
The gadgets designed to do this feat can download the entire contents of your cellphone/smartphone within minutes. The information obtained this way can well be prejudicial to the cellphone/smartphone owner/operator.
The Court of Appeal of the State of California (Sixth Appellate Distract) recently supported the notion that police, during a routine traffic stop, can extract information from your cellphone/smartphone – see decision.
More and more U.S. courts support the right of the police to go through your cell/smart phone and empty the contents, without a warrant and upon the decision to impound the vehicle.
In the California’s Appeal Court above, the police officer impounded the driver’s vehicle and conducted an inventory search prior to the towing of the vehicle. The Court decided that extracting the information from the driver’s cellphone was a legitimate extension of the inventory and could be done under those circumstances.
Information on your cellphone or smartphone can stretch back years upon years and can be misinterpreted by law authorities and taken out of context. Privacy has been thrown out of the window, once police utilize the extraction device to pull information out of anything that resembles a phone. The ACLU has serious concerns over the recent practices of law enforcement when they extract information from a driver/cellphone user.
Many judges view the information related to cellphone use as forming part of the public domain.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will confront the profound impact of new location-tracking technologies on Americans’ privacy. The case, U.S. v. Jones, presents the question of whether law enforcement needs a warrant before planting a GPS tracking device on a person’s car. The answer to this question is important in its own right, but the case is likely to have broader implications.
Attaching a GPS to a car isn’t the only way the government can track people’s movements. In fact, everyone with a cell phone is already carrying a device that the government can use to track his or her location. As a result, the principle at stake in this case may well shape our privacy rights in the years and decades to come.