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Looking at a phone’s lock screen also requires a warrant, judge rules – CNET

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Law enforcement needs a warrant to check someone’s lock screen, a judge ruled. 

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Angela Lang/CNET

US law enforcement pushing a button to bring up a phone’s lock screen qualifies as a search and requires a warrant, a judge ruled this week. The ruling was earlier reported by Ars Technica

The decision came as a part of a case in which Joseph Sam of Washington state was arrested last year and indicted on charges related to robbery and assault. During his arrest, an officer allegedly pressed the power button on his phone and called up the lock screen. 

In February, the FBI turned on Sam’s phone to take a picture of the lock screen. His lawyer filed a motion saying the evidence shouldn’t have been collected without a warrant. 

Judge John Coughenour of the US District Court in Seattle ruled in favor of that argument, stating that the FBI’s actions went against Sam’s Fourth Amendment rights. He determined that turning on Sam’s phone to take a picture of the lock screen qualifies as a “search” under the amendment. Because the FBI didn’t have a warrant,

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