Cellphones and smartphones generally cannot be searched by police without a warrant during arrests, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in a major victory for privacy rights.
Currently, police can search the person under arrest and whatever physical items are within reach to find weapons and preserve evidence. But the justices noted that vast amounts of sensitive data on modern smartphones raise new privacy concerns that differentiate them from other items.
They said police still can examine "the physical aspects of a phone to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon." But once secured, they said, "data on the phone can endanger no one" and the arrested person will not be able to "delete incriminating data."