Victory! On September 28, 2016 the Supreme Judicial Court unanimously affirmed that the government must have specific information that a cellphone contains evidence of a crime before it can search or seize the device.
Jessie Rossman, Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said:
"The Commonwealth argued that police officers can seize a suspect's cell phone because the police believe that criminals use phones to communicate. Today's unanimous ruling affirmed that this generic assertion cannot satisfy the Fourth Amendment's probable cause standard, which requires specific information that suggests the phone contains evidence of the crime. Anything less would, in the Court's own words, be "inconsistent with our admonition that individuals have significant privacy interests at stake in their cellular phones.
"As the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Berkman Center Cyber Law Clinic at Harvard Law School argued in its amicus, the Commonwealth's position in this case would have turned the constitutional warrant requirement on its head. Cellphones can store an enormous amount of private information. The courts have already recognized that this capability triggers the need for probable cause protection; it cannot, as the Commonwealth argued, satisfy the probable cause requirement. The Court's ruling preserves the protections of the Fourth Amendment and Article Fourteen in our new technological age and ensures that simply owning a cellphone does not establish probable cause."
Read more about the case Commonwealth v. White.