Jude Rules Law Enforcement Needs Search Warrant Even For Phone Lock Screen Access

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The court case focused on the constitutional rights of Joseph Sam. Sam was arrested by officers from the Tulalip Police Department in May 2019. One of the officers powered on Sam’s Motorola smartphone. The officer did not attempt to unlock the device or force Sam to do so.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) later also powered on Sam’s device in February 2020. However, the FBI agent took a screenshot of Sam’s lock screen which displayed the nickname “Streezy.” This evidence proved to be useful during their investigation.

District Judge John C. Coughenour of the United States District Court in Seattle contended that the police officer’s behavior was potentially reasonable and legal. The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Law enforcement can obtain a search warrant if they have “probable cause” to do so. Law enforcement officials are also able to conduct a search “incident to a lawful arrest” and to inventory the personal effects of a suspect. It is unclear why the police officers powered on Sam’s phone. Judge Coughenour has requested more information from the police about the arrest and their intentions, but has not ruled their actions unconstitutional.

iphone lock screen

Source : https://hothardware.com/news/lock-screen-warrant

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