United Supreme Court Defends Digital Privacy
The high court ruled unanimously Wednesday that law enforcement’s assumptions about privacy and mobile phones are flat wrong.
In a 9-0 decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the wealth of data contained on modern cellphones could not be accessed without more traditional protections, except under emergency conditions. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the (country’s) Founders fought,” Roberts wrote. “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”
The New York Times, editorializing on the decision, called it “a gratifyingly sweeping ruling.”
Truthdig legal columnist Bill Blum, who previously wrote about the cases in question, predicted the decision. Writing in April, Blum argued, “although the cases aren’t likely to force the very conservative Roberts court to overrule the pivotal 1979 decision—Smith v. Maryland—that has been cited repeatedly by the Obama administration as authority for the metadata program, they could compel the tribunal to question some of Smith’s underlying assumptions.” And so the court has.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Wednesday’s decision is that the justices acknowledged that their decision would protect criminals and make the job of law enforcement officers more difficult, but they decided to defend the principles of the Constitution nonetheless.
— Posted by Peter Z. ScheerWait, before you go…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig