The U.S. Supreme Court announced this morning their decisions in two closely-watched cases.
In Riley v. California, the Court ruled 9-0 that police can't search your cell phone without a warrant:
The court said on a 9-0 vote that the right of police to search an arrested suspect at the scene without a warrant does not extend in most circumstances to data held on a cell phone.
Because technologically sophisticated phones may hold huge amounts of personal data, they may not be searched without a warrant from a magistrate, the justices said.
In an unrelated 6-3 decision (ABC v. Aereo), the Court ruled that rebroadcasting is a performance under copyright law:
In a decision with implications for the television industry, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Aereo, a start-up streaming service, violated copyright laws by capturing broadcast signals on miniature antennas and delivering them to subscribers for a fee.
The 6-3 decision was a victory for the major television networks, which had argued that Aereo’s business model amounted to a theft of their programming.
For now, the judges’ ruling leaves the current broadcast model intact while imperiling Aereo’s viability as a business after just over two years in existence.
Backed by the Barry Diller-controlled IAC, Aereo allowed subscribers who paid $8 to $12 a month for its service to stream free-to-air broadcast television to their mobile devices, laptops and web-connected televisions. The start-up contends that it is merely helping its subscribers do what they could lawfully do since the era of rabbit-ear antennas: watch free broadcast television delivered over public airwaves.
The cell-phone case is probably a lot more important. I'll read it later. I'm surprised that Scalia went with the majority on it. Alito, for his part, wrote a concurrence, so the world isn't completely defying expectations.