Recent ruling in Florida fuels cellphone privacy debates
A recent ruling in Florida has added fuel to the fiery debate about cellphone privacy. Courts in the state ruled that police officers can search a suspect's cellphone without a warrant, provided the device is with the suspect at the time of arrest, according to the news channel WPTV-TV. The state appeals court argued a cellphone can be searched just as a wallet would be if it were found on an arrested suspect's person. This reverses a lower court's ruling against such searches, and goes one step further - cellphones can now be used as evidence against suspected criminals.
However, other states are shying away from allowing officers to access cellphones without permission from a judge. According to the News Observer, a recent survey of North Carolina residents shows 74 percent of respondents think police should be required to have a warrant before they search a suspect's cellphone.
"These results show that an overwhelmingly majority of North Carolina voters value privacy rights and believe law enforcement across the state should follow a uniform policy when seeking to obtain personal cellphone information," said Sarah Preston of the ACLU-NC in a news release about the poll. "The information transmitted through our cellphones - from where we travel to who we communicate with - is extremely sensitive and personal, and North Carolina voters clearly want to ensure that police obtain and retain such data only when a judge agrees that they have probable cause to do so."