You won’t see a police officer coming into your house to look around if they don’t have a warrant. That’s against the law. On the other hand, there are some things the police can do without a warrant, and one of them is search your cell phone. The protection you have in your home does not extend to your cell phone. In fact, in most states in America, a police officer is allowed to read over your texts and peruse other personal information on your phone whenever they want. The Fourth Amendment privacy rights and protections do not apply here.
Right now, police officers can apprehend you for small crimes. For example, they could apprehend you if you were simply jaywalking across the street. In doing that, they might also take a look at your phone to see if there are any larger crimes they could nab you for.
The fact that police officers can search your phone like this is frightening to a lot of people. Most individuals who own phones have them with them and on their person at all times. Furthermore, technology has advanced so much in recent years that a person’s entire life is on their phone. This includes addresses, phone numbers, recent calls, texts, emails, bank information and other personal data. Twitter and Facebook accounts are also linked to phones, which makes it easy for police officers to check out what people have been doing that could be illegal in their personal lives. If someone were to tweet about running a red light and just missing it, could that be grounds for a ticket? What if someone underage posts pictures of themselves and others drinking alcohol at their parents’ home?
Most people in America think that the police should have to have a warrant to search cell phones. You would expect that if a police officer can’t come into your home and look through your drawers and under your bed without a warrant, they couldn’t go into your cell phone and look around either.
The problem is exacerbated when you look at what little good your password lock can do for you. Most of the biggest manufacturers of cell phones as well as most of the biggest cell phone service providers will help police officers if they need it.
There are still a few states that have made it illegal for police officers to check out your cell phone whenever they might feel like it and without a warrant. These include Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Ohio and Florida. A lot of the other states have said that they want to allow police officers to continue to be able to search cell phones at their will and without warrants.
As a precaution, if you have personal information on your cell phone that you wouldn’t want a police officer to see, just don’t keep it there. Use your cell phone for social things that wouldn’t cause you any trouble, and try to avoid putting your entire life with pictures, connections, data and everything else on the internet in the first place.
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