Earlier this year, January to be precise, the California Supreme Court made a ruling that “legalized the warrantless search of cell phones during an arrest, regardless of whether the information on the phone is relevant to the arrest or if criminal charges are ever filed.” Those are the words of California Senator Mark Leno (pictured above, far right), who was one of the folks who didn’t like the decisions. Many people, like Mark, disagreed with the ruling, ourselves included, because so much of one’s life is now stored on the little metal and glass bricks we each carry in our pockets. To allow an officer to go through your phone without a warrant would be the equivalent of allowing him to go into your home and go through the box of letters you’ve got tucked away in the closet, the family albums that clutter your bookcase, and to see which numbers you’ve got stored in your home phone … if you even have a home phone.
Now things are different. Senate Bill 914, which was passed in August, officially becomes a law this week. It says that officers can’t search your device without receiving a “warrant issued by a duly authorized magistrate using established procedures.” In other words, what the California Supreme Court said just 9 months ago is now considered obsolete. If you’re ever searched in California and an officer does give you shit, then inform him nicely that the laws have changed, and if he continues on being a dick, then just bring him to court. Also, for extra protection, you really should lock your phone, either with a pincode or better yet a password. You never know who might have access to your device once the law throws you in a holding cell. And hey, if you lose your device, you’re also safe from having your privacy invaded.