By Jake Laperruque
Editor’s note: Jake is responding to the original version of our second post on Riley v. California.
In my opinion, this post’s critique of the Riley decision is wrong for several reasons:
First, it complains that the Court did not draw an impossible distinction. There is no realistic way to make a legal distinction between smartphones and “dumb phones” (aka feature phones). Feature phones do have less memory for contacts, personal notes, photos, and files (audio, video, etc) than smartphones, but today many feature phones do possess these features. How can you make a distinction on this front? Should the Supreme Court establish a warrant requirement for devices that can store a set number of GB? If so, how could you ever establish a reasonable bright line, especially in light of technology constantly changing storage capacity and cloud usage? What about apps such as Facebook, which exist on feature phones and can effectively act as an email service? Yes, individuals can often label a phone as a feature phone or a smartphone, but it can be very difficult to draw a clear line between the two, and a “You Know It When You See It” Rule carried out by law enforcement during arrests to govern warrantless searches of items with sensitive information and communications would severely harm privacy rights. The Court did not obfuscate on this issue — they wisely recognized that to effectively make a distinction is impossible, and would have led to significant confusion and problems in the future. [Read more…] about Riley v. California: A Reply