CA Governor vetoes bill requiring warrant to search phone content

Jerry Brown, Governor of California, has blocked passage of bill SB 914, which would require police to have a court order before viewing the contents of a cell phone carried by a detained suspect.  The bill was written by State Senator Mark Leno in response to a California Supreme Court decision that classified cell phones as personal property, the same as a suspect's wallet, bag, etc., which police can currently search without a warrant.  SB 914 was passed by the California legislature and had the support of the ACLU.

Brown clarified his position in a statement:

"This measure would overturn a California Supreme Court decision that held that police officers can lawfully search the cellphones of people who they arrest.  The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections."

What's especially alarming about this action is that SB 914 would have prevented police from obtaining private information such as email, texts, financial information and internet history.  All of these things would be considered off limits on a computer without a warrant, but somehow are allowed because they are on a phone.

It's unclear is whether a suspect would be required to disclose a password in the case that they have their phone locked, but to our CA readers, you'd better password-protect your phones, just in case.  Or better yet, don't go getting yourselves arrested!

Source: Politico


Reader comments

CA Governor vetoes bill requiring warrant to search phone content


Your reply doesn't make sense. The courts had already decided on the issue and some state lawmaker was trying to side-step there decision. Thats the reason why Brown vetoed the bill.I personally agree with the decision of that court. A cell phone is absolutely personal property. One could argue that if its a company phone it shouldn't be considered personal property. However, the law states that possession is 9/10's of the law.

Not surprised by this. Cops already thoroughly search people when they're arrested in public. This veto is basically saying that you're cell phone is no more personal than your car or wallet.

I don't care what the law says. Unless cops learn to hack passwords, there not getting in my phone. Period.

Trust me. Cops KNOW how to hack through computer security. If they can't do it themselves, they know who can do it for them.

what happened to Arnold? wasn’t he the governor?This should have happened sints * POCKET PC* considering PC need a warrant.

His term ended last year and Brown beat Meg Whittman for the new term. Not too happy about having to choose between those 2 and Brown lately has been doing stuff that makes me regret considering him the lesser of 2 evils.

Speaking of phone locks, any chance they'll ever put the gesture password thing into WP7, or is that an Android patent?

The Build conference showed gesture passwords are definately in Windows Future. Probably on Phone 8 though and not Phone 7.

I wonder if MS could implement a system where you have a passcode to unlock the device but also a passcode to wipe the device.

I can't believe the people of California aren't in outrage over this. This is just another example of the continuous undermining of civil liberties occurring in this country, slowly tearing down constitutionally granted protections against search and seizure without a warrant. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution extends the protections granted under the Bill of Rights to cover the states. SB 914 shouldn't even be necessary to protect the rights of California citizens.

@xpxp the crimes people commit are undermining the civil liberties, not law enforcement. The 14th amendment simply means fair and equal treatment for everyone, regardless of their poverty level. It has nothing to do with a cell phone. If it is on your person when you get arrested, so what if they look through it. You/they shouldn't have been in a situation to get arrested.