US v. Flores-Lopez: Does the Phone Booth Now Reside Inside the Phone?

In United States v. Flores-Lopez, the Seventh Circuit held that a warrantless search of a suspect’s cell phone — for the purpose of recovering the cell phone’s phone number — did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s Warrant Clause. The court considered the burden on the police of having to “traipse” about with digital forensics hardware and having to learn how to use equipment to prevent remote wiping of information. While acknowledging that preserving cell phone content forensically in order to apply for a warrant to search a phone may not be ideal for law enforcement officers, Daniel Gelb states that it is the most rational and constitutionally sound mechanism to protect society’s expectation of cell phone privacy.