Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oral arguments heard on warrantless searches before SCOTUS today; what about Faraday bags?

I recall being stopped by a cop near Chicago on Labor Day 1997 for speeding.  He let me go without a ticket, and noticed my authored books in the back seat (I was driving to Minneapolis to move).  He felt reassured that a writer like me wouldn’t have drugs or weapons.  I thought that was whimsical.

The cases before the Supreme Court today (U.S. v. Wurie and Riley v. California) are thought to have major implications for civil liberties in search and seizure law regarding cell phones, and perhaps laptops, notebooks and tablets, regarding whether police officers need a warrant or what kind of legal standard of cause they should meet before making a search.  The issues are laid out by Jeff John Roberts on Gigaom here.  He mentions the use of Faraday bags to scan the devices safely, as explained here.  The Faraday bag issue is interesting because Faraday cages or protection could protect electronic equipment in case of an EMP attack. Faraday bags can be used to preserve evidence on cell phones without fully searching them.

The Volokh Conspiracy discusses the case (and the “Robinson rule” v. a computer specific rule) in an article by Orin Kerr, link here

I wouldn’t have been too happy with having to surrender my computers in transit for a routine traffic stop. 

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