What your Phone Can Reveal About You – Like How Many Days in the US?
July 9, 2013
In the modern world of communication, the cell phone has become an extension of ourselves, and some may even refer to it as 'the appendage that is not attached to you.' Your phone might be essential when it comes to organizing your business appointments, reminding you about your wedding anniversary and finding out the latest scores of the football game. However, if it were to fall into the hands of law enforcement officials, you might be surprised at the revealing things it will say about you.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a report that it obtained from a drug investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, documenting the search and seizure of a suspect's iPhone from her bedroom. The agents were able to get personal information, including call logs, photos, videos, text messages, web history, and passwords for various services.
But the biggest surprise was the 659 previous locations of the phone invisibly gathered from wi-fi networks and cell towers. If you think a passcode or login safeguard is going to protect your information, you are sorely mistaken. Law enforcement have other tools at their disposal so that they can bypass your security measures, including mailing the phone to the manufacturer and having them extract the data.
The legality of warrantless phone searches remains an open issue. For almost forty years, the Supreme Court has held that officers, when making any lawful arrest, have the right to search any containers found on the arrestee. ("Search incident to a lawful arrest"). A cellphone is like a briefcase or a notebook, and the law is clear that those items can be examined without a warrant when they are found on a person who is lawfully arrested. However, the Florida Supreme Court is currently reviewing the issue of warrantless cellphone searches incident to a lawful arrest. Until the Florida Supreme Court reaches a ruling, the law in State v. Glasco, 90 So. 3d 905 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) is valid and binding across the state. The rule promulgated in that case was that when a suspect is lawfully arrested, some place other than a vehicle, police are allowed to seize and search a cellphone found on the suspect during the arrest.