Car rental agency

The police need a warrant to search your cell phone. Your car’s data systems? Not so much |






Cars are increasingly connected to drivers’ mobile phones, drawing call logs, text messages, location history, contact lists, driving habits and more into infotainment systems and vehicle navigation.


Juan Moyano, Tribune News Service


RILEY BEGGIN News from Detroit

WASHINGTON – Police can extract sensitive personal data from many modern vehicles without a warrant due to loopholes in federal law, new research shows.

Cars are increasingly connected to drivers’ mobile phones, drawing call logs, text messages, location history, contact lists, driving habits and more into infotainment systems and vehicle navigation.

But while the Supreme Court has determined that police need a warrant to search for this information when it is on a cell phone, that protection does not extend to information when it is stored on the systems of a car, argued College of William & Mary law professor Adam Gershowitz. in a recent article.

This is because of the “automobile exception” in the Fourth Amendment, which allows police to search cars without a warrant on the grounds that drivers could get away in the time it takes law enforcement to search. obtain authorization to search. The exception was established in a 1925 Supreme Court decision, Carroll v. United States.

This presents a potential problem for privacy and civil liberties, experts say, and will only become more complicated as passenger cars become more closely tied to drivers’ smartphones – and exterior and interior cameras increasingly become. more ubiquitous in vehicles.

In 2014, the Supreme Court determined that police needed a warrant to search cell phones because they contain massive amounts of personal information that represents a deeper invasion than searches for wallets and other items they people carry. However, the court ruling did not mention the automobile exception; Back then, vehicle technology was much more basic than it is today.