We all have clients who have been ordered to enter their passwords to their cellphone so the investigators can forensically examine the phone. As military defense counsel we frequently have these issues come up.
In 2018 there were an estimated 396 million smartphones and cellphone accounts nationwide. Carpenter v. United States, 585 U.S. ___, 138 S.Ct. 2206 (2018). Important personal information exists in smartphones. In the context of searching smartphones, the requirement for specificity should be at its apogee. Smartphones are mini-computers with extraordinary amounts of personal information, increasing exponentially on the device. Invading a smartphone is more harmful, quantitatively, and qualitatively, to privacy than invading a house or even early cellphones. See generally, United States v. Riley, Brief of Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The court in Riley observed that,
“modern cell phones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy. A smartphone of the sort taken from Riley was unheard of ten years ago; a significant majority of American adults now own such phones. See A. Smith, Pew Research Center, Smartphone Ownership—2013 Update (June 5, 2013). Even less sophisticated phones like Wurie’s, which have already faded in popularity since Wurie was arrested in 2007, have been around for less than 15 years. Both phones are based on technology nearly inconceivable just a few decades ago[.]