Tuesday, October 11, 2011

California Allows Warrantless Searches of Cellphones

If you can get by the outrageous caricature of California Governor Jerry Brown's head, this article, and the associated links at the bottom of the page, offer some interesting history and insights on the Law Enforcement community's ability to search a suspect's cell phone at the time of an arrest.  These searches have included the locations of cell towers that had been used in the past.  Go here to read more.

Comment: One of the more interesting comments offered in this article was attributed to Orin Kerr, described as one of the Nation's leading 4th Admendment experts.  According to Kerr: "It is very difficult for courts to decide Fourth Amendment cases involving developing technologies like cellphones.”  By this comment, Mr. Kerr is supporting the idea that it is more appropriate for legislative bodies to decide how emerging technologies (like geospatial) should be governed.  Unfortunately, there are problems with that approach also.  Case in point: the mess in the New York state Legislature where a law has been under consideration that would make recording the location of an item of infrastructure with a GPS (like a fire hydrant) illegal unless the GPS operator was a licensed surveyor.  An approach such as this would have devasting impact on the Emergency Services Sector by limiting access to current infrastructure location information that is now routinely provided by public works and similar unlicensed communites.  Clearly, we need to start thinking about geospatial technology and its emerging uses in a holistic way if we are going to get a handle the challenges of the future.  Probably as good of place as any to start would be here:

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