It turns out, after a ruling by the California Supreme Court, that police are now allowed to search anything – in depth – you have on your person at the time of arrest. According to the court record, defendants lose their rights to privacy for any items they happen to be carrying when arrested by police.
The controversial ruling cites precedents set in the United States Supreme Court in the 1970s. The precedents that were cited essentially say that anything on the arrested persons body can be confiscated and also examined in depth. Thus, carrying a smart phone on your person, as more people do every day, now has ramifications seemingly beyond the intended meaning of the high Court’s ruling. Police will now not need a warrant to see who you contact, read your emails, watch your videos, view your pictures, and read text messages that are stored in your smart phone if they are on the phone when and if you are arrested.
Maybe there will be a new app on the market that can aid those worried about police or other authorities rummaging through their digital life. The Court’s decision, led by Justice Ming Chin, relied on the Supreme Courts defense of thorough searches of cigarette packs and clothes that are on the arrested person. With today’s smart phone storage capacity and capability, it is unclear what the parallel to a cigarette pack from the 70s was. Can 8 gigabytes of information even fit in a cigarette pack?