Police Blotter is a regular CNET News report on the intersection of technology and the law.
What: Police claim they can legally copy data from the handheld devices of anyone who's arrested.
When: Two judges wrestle with concepts including privacy, the Fourth Amendment, and searches, and reach two different conclusions.
What happened, according to court records and other documents:
Handheld gadgets and laptops seem to know us better than our spouses do. They know whom we talk to, which Web sites we visit, whose e-mail we ignore, and with a little extra smarts, they could probably offer an educated guess about what we want for dinner.
To snatch these useful little devices from our homes, police need warrants. But if we happen to be arrested with gadgets in our pocket or purse, police say they have the right to peruse what could be gigabytes of data for potentially incriminating files or photographs.