Worth the Read–Cellphones

Protecting the Privacies of Digital Life: Riley v. California, the Fourth Amendment’s Particularity Requirement, and Search Protocols for Cell Phone Search Warrants

William Clark, Boston College, Law School, Students

June 30, 2015

Boston College Law Review, Forthcoming


In 2014, in Riley v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the police must obtain a warrant before searching a cell phone. Lower courts have struggled to determine what scope limitations judges should place on cell phone warrants in order to ensure that these warrants do not devolve into general searches. This Note argues that the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement mandates that the government submit search protocols, technical documents that explain the search methods the government will use on the seized device, for cell phone search warrants. Detailed search protocols will ensure that cell phone search warrants have a particularized scope and thereby protect the privacies of life modern cell phones contain.