California Supreme Court Rules That Cops Can Read An Arrestee's Cell Phone Texts.

I just saw how the California Supreme Court ruled that once you are under arrest, law enforcement is free to go thru your cell-phone or even your laptop computer looking for incriminating evidence.

This surprises me, as I thought the CA. judicial system was very liberal, and not inclined to such a ruling. I guess that once you are in cuffs, anything that you have with you is fair game for even the most intrusive searches…

Doesn’t everyone have their laptop and cell phone password protected anyways?

Time to PGP the hard drive

Remind me not to carry business records on my laptop when visiting there.

I am not a tech-savvy person at all (I have had the same cell phone for almost 3 years, and have never once sent a text message or used the camera feature—I guess I am too lazy to learn, as I only use it to call someone or take calls) so I didn’t realize that everyone has a password on their devices.

Maybe in practical terms this ruling is not a big deal, but for some reason, it still surprised me, coming from California, the supposed “Last Bastion Of godless Liberals” and all…:wink:

California’s Godless Liberalism ==> Ronald Reagan

I see the connection now.

I wonder if the nature of the phone matters as far as the law is concerned? I don’t know much about cell phone tech either, but I assume that some phones store the message within the phone, and some phones have to access a server owned by the phone company to get to messages. Lawyers could have a field day arguing that nuance.

This is one of the reasons lawyers who travel internationally are increasingly using remote access to their documents, without ever storing them on their laptops. We have a duty to protect the confidentiality of our clients’ legal matters, but increasingly there’s a concern that border security will trump solicitor-client privilege with respect to laptops and other electronic devices.

So it DOES in fact make a difference if your text messages are stored in the phone or on a server? Which suggests that I ought to buy up old dumb phones and market them to coke dealers.

Even the old dumb phones store text messages locally (on the SIM, IIRC). That’s for GSM; I’m not sure whether pre-3G CDMA phones had text messaging.

But if you can’t carry local softcopies, and you don’t have access to broadband Internet for remote access (I assume you mean something along the lines of Google Docs or Citrix Web Access, internal to the company), then you’re basically screwed. You’ll have to carry paper copies and reconstitute softcopies for editing.

That doesn’t work. Your papers can be searched more easily than your files. You’d have to encrypt them and send them electronically and separately from your physical person, which still gives the NSA (and China, and who knows who else) a shot at intercepting them and decrypting them.

So maybe your choice is encrypted files on your person running a gauntlet of Homeland Security drones, or via the intertubes, where things might slip though by virtue of sheer volume,

It’s always been the case that once you’re arrested, you are subject to a search. Your wallet, for example, has always been fair game.

Actually as I’ve mulled the OP, it is more disturbing. Less so from a personal liberties perspective than from an attorney-client privilege perspective.

I don’t understand. Why would you care that random law enforcement agents looking for terrorists are looking at your law files? I’m sure they are just as uninterested about your work with Mr. Smith’s divorce as you are.

Because I am under a professional obligation to keep in confidence anything my client tells me, and to reveal it only as needed for the purposes of representing my client. I must take every reasonable, legal precaution to keep that confidence.

Sure, the details of Mr. Smith’s divorce may seem pretty mundane and run-of-the-mill to me, and to others involved in the justice system - but for Mr. Smith, this is intensely personal information which he’s had to disclose to me in order for me to represent him well. For him, disclosure of that intensely personal information can be highly intrusive. I have to do everything reasonably possible to keep it confidential.

So, if I know I’m likely to cross a border, and I know that border inspectors are no respecters of solicitor-client privilege, I have a professional obligation to find a technical way to keep it confidential. Nowadays, that means remote access, so that even if I work on a document, there’s no record of it on my computer.