U.S. Supreme Court makes unanimous decision on cell phone searches

Many see this as privacy issue

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - There is new reaction to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision barring law enforcement from searching cellphones without a warrant. Some believe the move shows the courts finally catching up with the always-evolving technology that is a major part of American life.

West Palm Beach's Chris Partain remembers the 'good ole days'. "The first device I had was a pager and it was purple," he said.

But American technological devices have changed drastically in recent years. On Wednesday, a Supreme Court decision concerning cellphone searches is being considered by some as a reflection of the wired world we live in.

"The courts seemed to catch up with the basic idea that what's contained in our cellphones is private," said James Green, a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in south Florida.

The unanimous court decided that police can no longer search the cellphones of people they arrest without first obtaining search warrants. Justices ruled these devices do not fall into the same category as wallets, briefcases, and vehicles. Cellphones - now more than ever - hold powerful personal information that would normally be kept safe at home, according to the court decision.

"It's all right there in one convenient little packet of gold," said technology expert Alan Crowetz of InfoStream, Inc . He said that cyber-security has been growing by leaps and bounds but that the courts were not on the same pace. "It's kind of interesting to see the legal system recognize that there's just a lot of data and that this is another level we need to pay attention to," said Crowetz.

"I don't believe it's okay for cops to be searching your phones or computers or anything without proper warrants," said Partain. "So much personal information that I just want to keep to me."

No warrant would be required when officers fear for their safety or the lives of others. Still, some in law enforcement see the ruling as a setback, possibly setting anew standard privacy cases in the future.

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