Perhaps what is most encouraging about the ruling is the Ohio Supreme Court’s recognition that cell phones are much different than previous items that courts have allowed law enforcement to search without a warrant. Indeed, today’s modern cell phone is not simply used to make and receive phone calls. For many of us, it may be where we access the internet, manage our finances, maintain personal contact information, or where we store private photos. As a result, people have a much higher expectation that this information will remain private. If police were able to have unfettered access to cell phones without a search warrant, unimaginable amounts of personal data would be subject to government scrutiny.
The Court did outline two narrow exceptions where police could conduct warrantless searches: if it was necessary to protect the safety of officers, and if they believed the individual may delete evidence. However, in the second circumstance, the Court said the officers may only seize a cell phone to prevent the destruction of evidence. They did not give officers permission to search the phone prior to receiving a search warrant.
Labels: CIVIL LIBERTIES