SCOTUS just unanimously held that cops generally need a warrant to access your cell phone data. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion. The opinion is here.
I’m reading now to figure out what it means. Will update accordingly.
This passage is getting widely cited:
These cases require us to decide how the search incident to arrest doctrine applies to modern cell phones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy. A smart phone of the sort taken from Riley was unheard of ten years ago; a significant majority of American adults now own such phones.
I’m amused by the way Roberts deals with the government’s belated encryption argument.
Encryption isa security feature that some modern cell phones use in addition to password protection. When such phones lock, data becomes protected by sophisticated encryption that the password. Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae in No. 13–132, p. 11.
And data encryption is even further afield. There, the Government focuses on the ordinary operation of a phone’s security features,apart from any active attempt by a defendant or his associates to conceal or destroy evidence upon arrest.
We have also been given little reason to believe that either problem is prevalent.
Similarly, the opportunities for officers to search a password-protected phone before data becomes encrypted are quite limited. Law enforcement officers are very unlikely to come upon such a phone in an unlocked state because most phones lock at the touch of a button or, as a default, after some very short period of inactivity. See, e.g., iPhone User Guide for iOS 7.1 Software 10 (2014) (default lock after about one minute). This may explain why the encryption argument was not made until the merits stage in this Court, and has never been considered by the Courts of Appeals