In a few weeks the U.S. Supreme Court will define the Fourth Amendment rights for the new digital age. They will examine two court cases, U.S. v. Wurie and Riley v. California which will further explore the right to privacy and technology concerns. The mentioned cases involved a drug infraction and a minor traffic stop, which both led to felony charges.
The two cases for examination will help the Supreme Court decide if cell phones could be searched without a warrant, for about 50% of Americans own a smartphone. Hence, law enforcement have realized that anything from text messages, images, social media sites and contacts can help them learn more about a suspect’s activities for the present and future. Content found on a cell phone can also give a glimpse of the suspect’s thinking pattern and behavior. The Supreme Court will also consider other devices such as tablets and laptops in their discussion. In addition to cell phone and electronic device searches, another issue the Supreme Court must contemplate is whether police can obtain information about a person’s location from his or her cell phone carrier without a warrant.
Many states are already divided among the issue. Some states feel searching a person’s cell phone, smartphone, tablet and other devices is in direct violation of his or her Fourth Amendment rights, while other states feel the person’s Fourth Amendment rights is protected as long as law enforcement have a warrant to search the cell phone.