The other day we reported that the US Department of Justice had proposed a warrantless search on suspects, thus allowing law enforcement officers to search a suspect’s phone without the need for a warrant. This might sound like an invasion of privacy but according to the the US DoJ, they claim that with smartphone kill switches that could remotely wipe a phone, by the time a warrant is issued, the suspect and their associates could have already erased any evidence in the phone.
It is a little controversial and ironic given that it was lawmakers themselves who proposed for smartphones to come built-in with kill switches in the first place. That being, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will be ruling on whether or not warrantless searches will be allowed. There is also the issue of the Fourth Amendment which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
This begs the question of exactly at what point does it become unreasonable for law enforcement officers to search our devices. After all with smartphones these days, we have a ton of personal data stored in the cloud, like photos and videos, and not to mention links to social media which basically puts our personal information online.
There is also the issue of password-protected devices. If a phone were to be password-protected or its data encrypted, does a warrantless search also compel a suspect to unlock their phone and decrypt their data, or would that itself require a warrant as well? Either way the Supreme Court will be making their decision on Tuesday so do check back with us then to see what has been decided.