When Christian Taylor stopped by the Sprint store in Daly City, Calif., last November, he was planning to buy around 30 BlackBerry handhelds.
But a Sprint employee on the lookout for fraud grew suspicious about the address and other details relating to Taylor's company, "Hype Univercity," and called the police. Taylor was arrested on charges of felony identity fraud, his car was impounded, and his iPhone was confiscated and searched by police without a warrant.
A San Mateo County judge is scheduled to hear testimony on Thursday morning in this case, which could set new ground rules for when police can conduct warrantless searches of iPhones, laptops, and similarly capacious electronic gadgets.
This is an important legal question that remains unresolved: as our gadgets store more and more information about us, including our appointments, correspondence, and personal photos and videos, what rules should police investigators be required to follow? The Obama administration and many local prosecutors' answer is that warrantless searches are perfectly constitutional during arrests.
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By Declan McCullagh