Is your Smart Phone entitled to Privacy?

Consider, briefly, what’s on your smartphone: undoubtedly, there are photographs of your family and friends, detailed information about the places you’ve been and the routes you traveled to get there; copies of email and text messages you sent and received; internet searches you’ve run; and access to your Facebook accounts, with connections to your friends and associates. In short: a complete and very likely illustrated record of what you’ve been getting up to lately.

Now consider this: if you’re stopped and arrested for not wearing a seat belt or another minor infraction, do the police have a right to take your cell phone and, without a warrant, access all the information listed above, and more?

The Supreme Court takes up this question next month in a pair of related cases from California and Massachusetts.

In California’s State v. Riley, the Court will decide whether or not the police, who had stopped the defendant for having a broken vehicle light, had a constitutional right to seize his phone and search its contents. The photographs, videos, and messages on Riley’s phone connected him with a gang-related shooting. The evidence from the phone was admitted by the court and was used to help convict him. He’s currently serving 15 years to life, with his attorneys bringing the appeal.

Conversely, in United States v. Wurie, a case involving the seizure and search of a flip phone, the government brought the appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing for the right to make such warrantless searches and seizures.

As it stands now, your right to privacy in your phone records varies from state to state – and Connecticut is one of the states where the issue remains unresolved. “Your home and office computers are already password protected,” said Attorney Gregg Wagman. “Taking the extra step of password-protecting or otherwise encrypting your smartphone gives you extra protection not only from identity thieves but also from warrantless searches by the police.”

If you have any questions contact the

Law Offices of Gregg W. Wagman at:
70 Howard Street Suite C
New London, CT 06320
860-444-0100 office

Serving the Eastern Connecticut region including the Northeastern towns of Thompson, Putnam,
Brooklyn, Colchester, Willimantic, Marlborough, Lebanon and Plainfield and the Southeastern towns of Old Saybrook, Old Lyme,East Lyme,Waterford, New London, Groton, Salem, Ledyard, Montville, Mystic, Norwich, Voluntown, Preston, Stonington, North Stonington and New London

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