In a move that’s shocked lawmakers and civil rights officials, California Governor Jerry Brown is vetoing a law requiring police to obtain a search warrant before digging into a suspects phone data at the time of any arrest.
The move opens up an array of potential abuses. California police are now permitted to arrest a suspect on any minor charge in order to view their smartphone, which may contain email, call-logs, photos, banking records, cloud storage and the locations to which the phone has traveled — all without a warrant.
Wired reports that police have long been permitted to search an individual at the time of arrest in the name of officer safety, but as state’s now address warrantless searches of cell phones various factors come into play.
In Governor Brown’s case those factors may be campaign donations.
The Peace Officers Research Association of California, who strongly opposed the need for a warrant, donated $38,900 to Brown’s campaign.
At least seven other police unions donated more than $12,900 apiece (over $90k) and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association gave the governor more than $160,000.
Because Brown said the decision is best decided by the courts, an opinion opposed by Fourth Amendment experts, the governor has at least a year before the matter can be introduced into legislation again.
Wired points out the police support through that time will “be key if Brown decides to seek a second term.
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