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Submission + - Cops free to search your phone? (msnbc.com)

mpicpp writes: We call them “phones” out of habit, but the modern cellphone is a powerful personal computer that maintains an extensive record of our private lives and interactions. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether the police need a warrant to search them – or whether being arrested with one could mean forfeiting all the information on your iPhone.

“A cell phone has the same contents that the home did in the founding era, it has digital equivalents of papers, letters, drawings, private financial documents, private medical documents,” said Jim Harper, an attorney with the libertarian Cato Institute. “It’s a digital incarnation of the contents of the home.”

Two separate cases dealing with cell phones come down to whether or not searching your cell phone after an arrest is more like searching your home or your wallet. The Obama administration wants the high court to rule that it’s the latter, arguing that encryption technology and remote wiping already make it hard enough for police to glean evidence from cell phones before it’s destroyed. Civil libertarian groups say that modern cell phones carry near-infinite amounts of the very “papers and effects” that the Fourth Amendment protects from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and that allowing police to search a cell phone even after an arrest means they could map out a person’s entire life without having to even think about asking a judge.

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Cops free to search your phone?

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