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SUPREME COURT RULES ON CELL PHONE SEARCHES

The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cell phones of people they arrest.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cell phones must be protected from routine inspection.

The old rules cannot be applied to modern cell phones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy. This according to Chief Justice Roberts.

The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence.

But Chief Justice Roberts said neither justification made much sense in the context of cell phones. On the other side of the balance, he said, is the data contained on the typical cell phone. Ninety percent of Americans have them, he wrote, and they contain “a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives — from the mundane to the intimate.”

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