Legislation aims to protect private data in your cell phone

3:18 PM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Think of all the private things you keep on your cell phone... private messages, pictures or maybe bank account information.

A state senator thinks all of that private information needs more protection from law enforcement searches.

So Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a digital privacy bill to accomplish that goal. His legislation would prohibit police from searching or seizing portable electronic devices without a search warrant.

The St. Petersburg senator says the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches of "papers and effects" and in today's world, a cell phone and tablet fall into that category.

Brandes says right now there are no standards among counties on how law enforcement can track your digital devices.

"Police officers could simply arrest somebody for something like driving on a suspended driver's license and yet take their cell phone and search through it and find all kinds of information that is private, that is business-related. I think those are things that we're very concerned about and why we should in today's world be really looking at how our laws are shaped to protect the 4th Amendment."

The bill would also ban authorities from tracking your cell phone without a warrant.

"People should have a reasonable expectation of privacy with their cell phones and, frankly, from being tracked by the government without a higher judicial scrutiny that includes a warrant," said Brandes.

There are some exceptions in the bill. Police could still check your cell phone or tablet if they believe someone's life is in danger, in cases of missing children under the age of 18 and for any incident related to national security.

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