July 3

Search Warrant Required to Search Mobile Phones

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Riley v. California, ruled that the police must first obtain a warrant before searching a mobile phone seized during the arrest of a suspect. The court left open the possibility that the police might lawfully examine the data on a phone in an emergency situation on a case-by-case basis (exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement). The decision left unresolved the legality of the police use of technology such as “Stringray,” that allows the police to intercept cell phone signals by masquerading as a cell phone tower — an International Mobile Subscriber Identity locator, or “IMSI catcher.” A Wall Street Journal article has an explanation of the device.