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Supreme Court hears arguments on phone searches
The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday about whether or not police should have to get a warrant before they search a persons phone.
Our main concern is the privacy rights issue, said Melanie Trimble, with the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The Supreme Court is considering the issue after a gang member and drug dealer were arrested, their phones were searched and they were convicted using evidence found on those phones.
In the past, the Supreme Court has said that police can search whats on a suspect to prevent evidence from being destroyed and to keep officers safe.
The Obama Administration and State of California are defending the searches, saying that cellphones have no greater protection. But the defendants say that cellphones have the ability to store a lot of personal information.
We're very concerned that in expanding searches to allow for personal phones its going to be a dangerous precedent, said Trimble.
People CBS6 spoke with agree.
That's personal information, said Nick Klapp.
I think they should have to have a warrant to search my phone because its essentially whats in my house, said Trina Karim.
People have that expectation of privacy and they have that right, said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.
Sheriff Apple said that right now, the Countys policy is to get a warrant for a phone before searching it.
He said it would be easier and possibly faster to do the search without a warrant. But no matter how the Supreme Court rules, he plans to continue with the Countys policy.
Its not saying you cant secure the phone and then go through the proper channels. Get your search warrant and extract that information at a later date, he said.
Sheriff Apple said that there are ways to secure a phone so information cant be deleted. He also said that if its a matter of life and death, officers are allowed to search a phone without a warrant.
The Supreme Court decision is expected in June.