Police Can Now Check Your Phone When They Arrest You

Who's to stop them from poking around your email or Facebook, or worse: messing up your Words with Friends score?

phone recent calls list

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled this week that if you’re arrested, the cops can look on your cell phone to see your list of recent calls. But the court cautioned that—at least for now—officers can only look at your call list; no poking around in your email, no perusing through your photos and slapping the one of you wearing a speedo onto your Facebook page, and no looking to see how many levels you’ve conquered on Angry Birds.

But what’s to stop them? Will members of the Supreme Judicial Court be out on the road supervising every DWI arrest across the state? Will there be a ride-along cell-phone-search-supervisor? Or will we simply be operating on the honor code? Just ask anyone who’s been thumped by the cops how well that system works out.

Everyone has secrets, and most of them are not illegal, just embarrassing. The police, and potentially the rest of the world, don’t need to know what’s in everyone’s skeleton closet. Pity the poor middle-aged drunk driver whose catalogue of calls to the My Little Pony hotline is made public on a police report for his boss and wife to see. The court’s ruling is yet another reminder that privacy is dead—and that it’s only going to get worse—so we better get used to it or find ways to get around it.

Perhaps designer call lists will be the way to go. Cops may be less than thrilled to rifle through your life, a.k.a. your cell phone, if they see that the first call you make every morning is to Gloria Allred or the ACLU—the kind of numbers that tend to make an officer’s fingers burn and eyes roll into the back of their head.

Sure, these folks may get tired of you calling every day, but tell them you’re just covering your ass and to take it up with the Massachusetts high court. For that matter, you better keep Justice Margot Botsford—who authored the court’s unanimous opinion—on speed dial. Want the number?