Digital Searches After Riley v. California

In Riley v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled police cannot search a cellphone’s data without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment’s search incident to arrest exception. The Court recognized that “digital” is different. Riley builds upon the decision in United States v. Jones, which found the warrantless installation of a GPS device on a car constituted a “search.” Defense attorneys can use Riley and Jones to (1) mount constitutional challenges to public surveillance via video cameras or drones; (2) demand particularity in the execution of digital searches and seizures; and (3) argue for limits to electronic searches at the border.