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!