Search warrants are now required for the search of cellphones, tablets, and laptops thanks to Wednesday’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling. The Court’s surprisingly tech-forward opinion found that cell phones, and the vast amounts of personal data they carry, necessitate clear protections.
“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand,” Chief Justice Kennedy wrote, “does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought.”
The Justices’ opinion went on to explicitly defend the privacy of individuals, calling out a number hypothetical situations often used as would-be reasons to delve into peoples’ personal data. Justice Roberts clearly stated that instances of the remote wiping of data were unlikely and easily circumvented by authorities if need be.
Though the ruling clearly struck a blow for advocates of privacy, Justice Roberts made it clear that the Court understood the drawbacks to its decision.
“Cellphones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals,” he conceded. “Privacy comes at a cost.”