Calif. Governor Veto Allows Warrantless Cellphone SearchesBy David Kravets
Oct. 11, 2011
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California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.
The Sunday veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that personís mobile phone ó which in the digital age likely means the contents of personsí e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.
Police across the country are given wide latitude to search persons incident to an arrest based on the premise of officer safety. Now the nationís states are beginning to grapple with the warrantless searches of mobile phones done at the time of an arrest.
Brownís veto message abdicated responsibility for protecting the rights of Californians and ignored calls from civil liberties groups and this publication to sign the bill ó saying only that the issue is too complicated for him to make a decision about. He cites a recent California Supreme Court decision upholding the warrantless searches of people incident to an arrest. In his brief message, he also doesnít say whether itís a good idea or not.