Safe! Police need a search warrant for your phone

If there is one thing Windows phone users know, it's that their little device can hold a whole lot of information. Whether it's e-mail, personal finances, PIN codes, documents, or naked drunk pictures of yourself at that office holiday party, these mini computers can contain a vast resource of information about our personal lives (and those around you).

While a lot of security issues on smartphones revolves around potential thievery, e.g. remote wiping or spyware, one area up till now has been gray: Do the police have a right to search your phone, even when arrested?

At least according to a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling, no the police cannot search your phone. Like other areas such as car and home searches, police are required to get a search warrant first.  To quote the NY Times:

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this month, by a 4-to-3 vote, that the search violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Rather than seeing a cellphone as a simple closed container, the majority noted that modern cellphones — especially ones that permit Internet access — are “capable of storing a wealth of digitized information.”

Expanding upon that notion, there is no need to distinguish between "smartphones" and "dumbphones" either as all phones will be covered, ruling out potential areas of dispute in court.

Of course the flip-side is law enforcement will argue that this will make their job harder, something to which we sympathize.  Regardless, we are quite pleased with this decision.  (Counter argument: we're trying to think of situations where remote-wiping could be nefariously employed here once the phone is in possession, but not searched yet by the police.  Hmmm...)

Either way, would you trust that guy (above) with your tricked out, custom Touch Pro 2 with stealth-tethering hack?  Heck, no ...

What are you thoughts?  Sound off in comments...

[via NY Times]

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!