Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 30, 2014

Secure in their phones

Just how much does the Constitution protect your digital data? The Supreme Court is only just coming to grips with that question. On Tuesday, it will consider whether police can search the contents of a mobile phone without a warrant if the phone is on or around a person during an arrest.

California has asked the justices to refrain from a sweeping ruling, particularly one that upsets the old assumption that authorities may search through the effects of suspects at the time of their arrest. Even if the justices are tempted, the state argues, it is hard for judges to assess the implications of new and rapidly changing technologies.

The court would be recklessly modest if it followed California’s advice. Enough of the implications are discernable, even obvious, that the justices can and should provide updated guidelines to police, lawyers and defendants.

They should start by discarding California’s lame argument that exploring the contents of a smartphone — a vast storehouse of digital information — is similar to, say, rifling through a suspect’s purse. The court has ruled that police don’t violate the Fourth Amendment when they sift through the wallet or pocketbook of an arrestee without a warrant. But exploring one’s smartphone is more like entering his or her home. A smartphone may contain an arrestee’s reading history, financial history, medical history and comprehensive records of recent correspondence. The development of “cloud computing,” means that police officers could conceivably access even more information with a few swipes on a touchscreen.

Americans should take steps to protect their digital privacy. But keeping sensitive information on these devices is increasingly a requirement of normal life. Citizens still have a right to expect private documents to remain private and protected by the Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Pensions need to be addressed I will have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed today with the receipt of articles and suggestions for a column. One of my Fitness Mafia colleagues constantly tells me the columns are too long and trying to address different subjects just dilutes

    July 22, 2014

  • VA still failing our vets Jymm’s preferred attire is a skin-tight Minnie Mouse T-shirt with bright pink windbreaker pants. Even when not sporting his choice outfit, he dons short shorts and shirts with holes in them, because that’s what he finds most comfortable. His Santa Mo

    July 22, 2014

  • Feed your home piggy bank with a 15-year mortgage This summer, we finally decided to take the plunge we’d been contemplating for a while: converting our 30-year mortgage to one with a 15-year payoff. It’s a big step. Our payments will go up somewhat (the PITI — principal, interest, tax, and insuranc

    July 19, 2014

  • Under the dumb There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

    July 19, 2014

  • Widening the loopholes This week, two more U.S. companies moved to reestablish themselves overseas, allowing them to pursue lower corporate tax rates. They will join dozens of others who have chased lower tax bills abroad while maintaining operations in the United States,

    July 19, 2014

  • Patriotism not questioned Editor:I am responding to Mayor Mary Jane Chesley’s Reader’s View article in the Thursday, June 19, 2014, Register-News “Patriotism is strong.”The mayor has missed the point of my Reader’s View/opinion article in the local newspapers regarding Flag D

    July 19, 2014

  • Who's telling a story now? For this administration, failure is always the result of a “communications” problem. Otherwise, failure might be taken as evidence of misguided ideology and incompetent execution, right? It’s a weird excuse for the president who fancies himself to be

    July 18, 2014

  • Why cutting corporate taxes won't help the middle class WASHINGTON — Earlier this week, I testified in front of the Joint Economic Committee on the topic of assessing the recovery after five years.As you can imagine, congressional testimony can be pretty frustrating these days for members of the fact-base

    July 18, 2014

  • Heart of darkness in buffer zone BOSTON — “Be careful. This is a dangerous corner.”It’s not until you visit the Boston Planned Parenthood clinic at the heart of the recent Supreme Court buffer-zone case that you realize the unnecessary danger it created. And I’m not even inside.On t

    July 18, 2014

  • When should U.S. use force? Was the Iraq war the greatest strategic error in recent decades, as some pundits have suggested recently? The simple answer is no. That honor belongs to the failure to take action against al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden before the attacks that killed ne

    July 17, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks