Government Has Legal Right to Snoop Cell Phones for Your Personal and Business Data

Last Updated Jan 9, 2011 11:43 PM EST

You keep a lot of sensitive business and personal data on your cell phone. So do your employees. But that's okay; any random police officer can't just take your phone and browse it, right? Actually, they can.

If you live in California, that is. Thanks to a recent California Supreme Court ruling, police officers do not need a warrant to browse your phone's messages and other data. That means if you have an employee who gets arrested for a DUI while in possession of a company-issued Blackberry or even his own personal iPhone, the District Attorney can read all about the activities of your business -- without probable cause or a warrant.

If you're not in California, you can breathe a short sigh of relief. But don't get too complacent, since California often leads the country in legal and legislative trends.

The court's decision wasn't unanimous, though the ruling made it clear that the Fourth Amendment didn't protect one's phone (or anything else found on your person at the time of the arrest). Look for further clarifications and scoping of this ruling in the furture. For now, though, you might want to think about how John L:aw's unfettered access to your sensitive corporate data might affect your e-mail and texting policies.

And remember: Not everything you need to communicate necessarily needs to be sent in e-mail, since e-mail is forever. [via ars technica]

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