The Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in favor of digital privacy Wednesday that says police generally need a search warrant to examine an arrested person’s cell phone.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a sweeping opinion, stating that digital devices contain collections of potentially sensitive information. The Court rejected arguments that searching a cellphone is akin to examining anything else officers might find on someone they arrest.
“Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse,” Roberts wrote.
The opinion still allows police to search cell phones without warrants under “exigent circumstances.” This includes “ticking-bomb scenarios” or instances when there’s reason to believe evidence is going to be destroyed.