Police get help unlocking suspect’s phones
Today we brought you a story about how police are tapping cell phones – some get a warrant, some don’t. It’s a murky, grey area. But when police make an arrest and seize that cell phone they’ve been tapping, they’re increasingly turning to Apple and Google for help unlocking the devices. According to CNET, iPhones can be unlocked pretty easily with help from the company, whereas Google has no power to unlock Android phones. To unlock an Android, Google has to reset the user’s Gmail password. That’s all fine and well, if the perp is in custody, but such a message could tip off those less confined by bars.
The Obama administration and many local prosecutors argue that warrantless searches are perfectly constitutional during arrests, likening it to looking through an suspect’s wallet or appointment book. Civil libertarians and privacy advocates have responded by saying that because our gadgets today store so much information about us, including correspondence and personal photos and videos, a search warrant should be required.
If warrantless GPS tracking cases can predict the future, don’t be surprised when you see a cell phone wiretap case in the Supreme Court followed closely by a case on the constitutionality of unlocking and searching someone’s phone.
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