Cell Phone Search Bill Passed by State Assembly

Bill would require a search warrant before law enforcement officers examine cell phones

By Sarah Grieco
|  Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011  |  Updated 10:08 AM PDT
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Cell Phone Search Bill Passed by Assembly

Senate Bill 914 would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before looking through people's cell phones.

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The California State Assembly unanimously passed a bill Monday that would require law enforcement officers to obtain a search warrant before looking through someone’s cell phone.

Currently, officers are allowed to search portable electronic devices without a warrant. State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) authored Senate Bill 914 bill to overturn that ruling. Leno argues that smart phones contain private information and records, and thus should be protected.

“This legislation will help ensure that a simple arrest – which may or may not lead to criminal charges – is not used as a fishing expedition to obtain a person’s confidential information,” Leno said.

The assembly passed the bill 68-0. California State Senate passed SB 914 earlier this summer and now awaits a signature from Gov. Jerry Brown.  If signed, law enforcement making an arrest can access only access cell phone or electronic devices with a warrant.

NBC San Diego received mixed opinions from Facebook users when asked, "Should cops have the ability to search a suspect's cell phone or is a person's cell phone private property?"

"I have nothing to hide, but I think they should have a warrant if they want a look at my calls and text messages," wrote Jennifer Marcouillier Desjardins. "My phone is my personal property and should be treated by law the same way as my home (no search without a warrant)."

Another user thinks it's okay for police officers to look through phones.

"If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about," wrote Julie Salmons. "I believe that law enforcement needs to leave no stone unturned in order to catch dirtbags."

Tell us what you think. Comment below, follow us on Twitter @nbcsandiego or check out our Facebook page.

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