Is it ok for the police to search your phone? On one hand, if the person has committed a crime, then it would seem that this kind of search might be warranted. On the other hand, however, there is something to be said about privacy and protocol. Regardless of the situation. There are laws that protect someone’s right to privacy. But the laws differ from state to state, and I would argue that they are even different here in Canada. The question of the day, however, is whether or not police should be able to search your phone? And what kind of grounds do they need to have in order to do it “lawfully”? Another question to consider is whether or not a finger print is considered to be a passcode. And can you abstain from giving out your passcode to the authorities?
So what do you do? Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been asked to hand over your phone? And should you? The laws that protect our privacy, protect people who aren’t doing anything wrong as well as those who are. The legal system is an extremely interesting one. There are bad people who can get away with things, and there are good people who get caught in the cross hairs. But who is right? This is all over the news right now, as a man in Florida was jailed for 180 days for not giving police his passcode. Was that too much? Maybe. In this particular instance, however, the man was accused of child abuse. Were the police trying to catch him on a technicality?
I’ve asked a lot of questions in these first two paragraphs, but I don’t think there are as many answers as there are questions. The judge ruled that he could be released from jail if he gave his passcode to the police. It’s unclear if he has yet or not. But if there are things on that phone that he doesn’t want someone to see, because it will incriminate him, maybe it’s in his best interest not to. Maybe 180 days in jail for him is better than getting charged with child abuse. I’m not saying I agree with him, or the judge in this particular matter, but it is an interesting scenario.
I wonder if you can see where my brain is going to jump to next? What if he has data in the cloud that he doesn’t want someone to access to? Could he get someone to wipe it remotely, or is that part of this search? Is that even legal? We all have the right to our privacy, but at what cost? If the allegations are true, and he did harm a child, then one could argue that he should have his privacy taken away. But that’s not necessarily fair as someone else could be accused, and not have done anything wrong.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, where the guest on the show made the comment that “if you’re not doing something wrong, then you don’t have anything to hide” idea is full of holes because it’s about privacy. But I’m not sure I agree with him on that one. I am not saying go out and give your information to the police or law enforcement authorities, but if you’re not doing anything wrong and the only thing you have to hide is your browser search history, then why not hand over the passcode?
That being said, we live in such a crazy world right now that it’s possible to find yourself in a situation where you don’t even know you’re doing something wrong. I don’t necessarily think I have the answer to this one, but it will be interesting to see how different states apply this law. And how it shakes out in the months and years to come.