Washington state text message privacy cases

EFF urged the Washington State Supreme Court  to recognize that text messages are “the 21st Century phone call” and require that law enforcement obtain a warrant before reading texts on someone’s phone.

In this case, police seized a cell phone during a drug investigation, and monitored incoming messages. Officers responded to several texts, setting up meetings that resulted in two arrests.  Prosecutors have argued that there should be no expectation of privacy in text messages, as anyone can pick up someone else’s phone and read what’s stored there. But in two related amicus briefs, EFF argues that searching the phone for the texts clearly violates the Constitution.

In February 2014, the Washington Supreme Court agreed with us in both cases, ruling the search of the text messages was unlawful.

Case status: 

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