A new ruling (PDF) from the US Supreme Court has made it more difficult for police officers to search your cell phone if you get stopped. Law enforcement will, in general, need to get a warrant.

The court’s decision makes for an interesting read, but this sums it up if you’re short on time:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life,” Boyd, supra, at 630. The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple— get a warrant.

Police will be allowed to inspect the phone itself, but not the contents. According to the ruling, possible exceptions to the warrant requirement could include a detainee texting an accomplice to detonate a bomb or a suspected child abductor that could have information about the abductee on the phone.

RILEY v. CALIFORNIA

See also: Aereo’s free-to-air broadcast TV service violates the Copyright Act, Supreme Court rules

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