A warrant is needed for police to check a cell phone


Jordan Hanlon

Cell phones are now considered privately owned, much like one’s house or car.

Jordan Hanlon, Editor-in-Chief of The Highlander

Cell phones are now officially private property.

Last Thursday the Senate Bill 178, authored by Senators Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and a few others, was signed, passing a new law in California. The law states that police or any other law enforcement officials must have a warrant to check someone’s cell phone.

A similar bill to this one was vetoed several years ago by Governor Jerry Brown, but was passed on Thursday because of the effects that cell phones have on society and citizens today.

Companies like Google, Facebook and Apple were large supporters of this bill being signed, due to the fact that law enforcement frequently demands information from these companies based on suspects and certain cases. These three companies and many others are hoping that this law will minimize the amount of information they have to give out to the police because of the new warrants needed to look into private information found on a cell phone.

“For too long, California’s digital privacy laws have been stuck in dark ages, leaving our personal emails, text messages, photos and smart phones increasingly vulnerable to warrant-less searches,” said Leno.

Some feel that this law is important because it stretches our natural rights and that the police should have a valid reason to search one’s cell phone.

“I feel that the law will preserve our Bill of Rights, and a warrant for cell phones is similar to how police need a warrant to check our cars and houses. A cell phone is our personal belonging and a warrant should be needed to preserve our rights as humans,” said junior Matthew Baeza.

However, others believe that this law could be particularly dangerous when dealing with suspects and criminal cases due to the evidence that can potentially be found on cell phones.

Sophomore Amy Gifford said, “Police should have the right to check all phones if someone is looked at as suspicious. If this law stays in act many criminals could get off easier by clearing information from their cell phones before the police obtain a warrant. Technology is used by almost everyone today, and if technology can help catch a guilty person committing a crime than why would we rid ourselves of that advantage?”