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United States Privacy The Courts

DOJ Complains About Getting a Warrant To Search Mobile Phones 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-us-an-easy-button-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The US government has entered its reply brief in the US vs. Wurie case and its argument in favor of warrantless searches of arrestees' cell phones contains some truly terrible suppositions. The government argues that impartial technological advancements somehow favor criminals. As it sees it, the path to the recovery of evidence should not be slowed by encryption or wiping or even the minimal effort needed to obtain a warrant. From the article: 'The government agrees that times are changing but counterintuitively argues that only law enforcement is being negatively affected by this. Every argument in favor of warrantless searches contains some sort of lamentation about how tech-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained on their phones before the police can crack open these new-fangled address books and copy everything down.'"
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DOJ Complains About Getting a Warrant To Search Mobile Phones

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:39AM (#46852971)

    It's almost like citizens should have their papers and effects safe from warrant-less searches. Crazy, I know.

  • Boo Fucking Hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShaunC (203807) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:43AM (#46852995)

    Do some real investigative work and make your freaking case. If the only evidence you have on someone is contained within their cell phone, perhaps they aren't guilty of anything they ought to be getting arrested for.

  • by sbrown7792 (2027476) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:45AM (#46853001)
    Digital or not, it's someone's property. Get over yourself and get a warrant to search/seize it.

    tech-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained on their phones before the police can crack [it] open

    And fire-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained in their house. What's the difference?

  • Makes no sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:47AM (#46853013)

    lamentation about how tech-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained on their phones before the police can crack open these new-fangled address books and copy everything down.

    A warrant has nothing to do with this capability. If the perp sees you coming and wipes the phone*, the presence of a warrant has no effect on this. On the other hand, if you can secure the phone prior to the wipe, why can't you put it in an evidence bag, ask a judge for a warrant and then read it.

    *IANAL, but it is my understanding that the existence of a warrant has little bearing on a charge of destroying evidence.

  • Re:Boo Fucking Hoo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:52AM (#46853041)

    And if they actually had evidence of this, they could easily get a warrant.

  • tl;dr (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @12:03PM (#46853097)

    tl;dr

    DoJ complains about 4th Amendment - wants it repealed.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:00PM (#46853361)

    Look at the argument: "... some sort of lamentation about how tech-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained on their phones before the police can crack open these new-fangled address books and copy everything..."

    Clearly we must give the government any and every power that they want to snoop into our lives. After all, it's not like they could just put the phones that they steal in a simple shielded Faraday box while they wait for a warrant, and then do their snooping in a Faraday cage. No, it is far better to give every scumbag that wants to snoop into your life completely free unrestricted access than to even make them go through the sham of having a warrant first, after all, they have implied that somehow tech-savvy criminals might wipe their phones.

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:07PM (#46853393) Homepage
    funny thing is in a traditional sense the 2nd amendment was just as liberal as the rest.
  • by BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:13PM (#46853429)

    Typical. We're supposed to be the land of the free, and yet all these thugs care about is 'safety' (or, in reality, power), even when freedom should be considered more important in a land of truly free and brave people.

  • Re:Boo Fucking Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGavster (774657) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:32PM (#46853511) Homepage

    The police are allowed to search your phone, your papers, your home, anything, once they go to a judge, present their case, and receive authorization. The person whose property is being searched has no voice in this case, and in fact isn't even necessarily aware it is being made until they are presented with the warrant. It's literally the most trivial of checks and balances, provided you actually do have a need to search that single individual's property. The goal of these warrantless search rules is to allow dragnet searches of EVERYONE's property.

    Think of a warrant as similar to those "hash cash" anti-spam concepts: It's really easy to do if you have a single email that you want to send, but if you're looking to send 100k indiscriminate spam messages, it's going to slow you down.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:41PM (#46853825)
    Jack Vance probably said it best, in one of his novels. Here a ruler is speaking to the legislative body of government (e.g., congress, parliament):

    I urge you not to endorse this sinister measure. Humanity many times has had sad experience of superpowerful police forces...

    As soon as [the police] slip out from under the firm thumb of a suspicious local tribune, they become arbitrary, merciless, a law unto themselves. They think no more of justice, but only of establishing themselves as a privileged and envied elite. They mistake the attitude of natural caution and uncertainty of the civilian population as admiration and respect, and presently they start to swagger back and forth, jingling their weapons in megalomaniac euphoria.

    People thereupon become not masters, but servants. Such a police force becomes merely an aggregate of uniformed criminals, the more baneful in that their position is unchallenged and sanctioned by law. The police mentality cannot regard a human being in terms other than as an item or object to be processed as expeditiously as possible. Public convenience or dignity means nothing; police prerogatives assume the status of divine law. Submissiveness is demanded. If a police officer kills a civilian, it is a regrettable circumstance: the officer was possibly overzealous. If a civilian kills a police officer all hell breaks loose. The police foam at the mouth. All other business comes to a standstill until the perpetrator of this most dastardly act is found out. Inevitably, when apprehended, he is beaten or otherwise tortured for his intolerable presumption.

    The police complain that they cannot function efficiently, that criminals escape them. Better a hundred unchecked criminals than the despotism of one unbridled police force.

    Again I warn you, do not endorse this measure. If you do, I shall surely veto it."

    From The Star King, by Jack Vance

    This passage is notable for how demonstrably true it is. We have had exactly this problem with our local police, for many years, and we are only now beginning to get a handle on them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @02:51PM (#46853859)

    The bill of rights shouldn't even be necessary ... if you you read the Constitution, Congress, the President, etc don't have any authority to do any of that stuff.

    The 9th and 10th amendments exist because some forward thinking people realized if you have a list of things which are not allowed, sometime in the future, the government would treat that as the only things which are not allowed.

    Captcha: treason.

  • by bsolar (1176767) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:27PM (#46854409)
    His strategy is to remove impunity from their actions. It should happen through prosecution of unneded violence, but sadly this is not the case. He might also be correct: unneeded violence is much more unlikely from if that would put the "aggressor" in danger too. As they say: "if you want peace, prepare for war."
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:55PM (#46854899)

    Violent crime is plummeting yet the state is escalating.

    And because of research into lead and such, it looks like it was unrelated to any acts by the police state that resulted in the crime drop.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:43PM (#46855421) Journal

    Every historical democracy failed because they gave over "emergency powers" that were never given back.

    The Founding Fathers, for all their warts, were a hell of a lot wiser than current politicians. They foresaw a neverending battle of generation after generation ready to fall into this trap.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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