Founding Fathers For Your Cell Phone’s Privacy Protection

Founding Fathers For Your Cell Phone’s Privacy Protection

Cellphones may be the most personal item you have on you at any given point of the day. You can find out a lot about a person simply through browsing texts, Internet history, pictures, and the like.


A cell phone is what you call an effect, which is to say personal belongings. In the Fourth Amendment, the founding fathers addressed such belongings in listing the terms “papers and effects.”


Technically, papers and effects include technological devices, but how could the founding fathers have guessed groundbreaking technology, like the creation of the cell phone, when institutionalizing the Fourth Amendment in 1791?


They definitely did their best at least in making the amendment.


It’s not easy to believe the founders would agree, much less comply, with a system which grants a free and unwarranted search of its citizens’ privacy for the sake of the just-in-case method. This is why they instilled the Fourth Amendment, which is the go-to policy on protecting private property. It reads as follows:


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In two ongoing court cases (Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie), the Supreme Court is determining whether or not the Fourth Amendment was violated when two separate individuals had their cell phones removed in police-conducted searches made without probable cause in either scenario. One could strongly argue these cases should not be ongoing. Rulings on officer misconduct should have been made long ago, and it should have been an obvious ethical decision.


However, and this is not making excuses, technology and modern life often create and complicate challenges for the Constitution. With that said, we must remember what Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) wrote for in a May 27 publication:

Technology will continue to evolve, but our Constitution endures,” Paul and Coons wrote. “We took an oath to uphold the Constitution. So did every member of the U.S. Supreme Court. The government says that it has the authority to search phones without a warrant. As a matter of text and history, however, the Fourth Amendment says that they do not.”


All we can do now is hope those in charge agree.


What are your thoughts? Do police have the right to search through your personal information without the understanding that the search is 100 percent necessary? Share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.


Photo courtesy of Hartmanu Florin via Flickr Creative Commons



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