Landmark Ruling on Cell Phones, Privacy and the Police

Supreme Court justices unanimously agree police need a warrant to search cell phones.
1:55 | 06/25/14

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Transcript for Landmark Ruling on Cell Phones, Privacy and the Police
within a year. We move next to that landmark ruling by the supreme court. In this world of technology, something has been declared personnel, the private information on your cell phone and today the court said, even law enforcement has to respect boundaries. ABC's terry Moran tells us. Reporter: In the 21st century, we carry virtually our whole lives with us on our phones. Our e-mails, messages and calendars, our games and all our apps. Our finances, photos, and of course, our selfies. 90% of Americans carry a cell phone. 12 prkt admit they even use theirs in the shower. So, does a police officer have the power to just search through your entire phone if you get arrested for anything? Today the supreme court justices, who divide so closely on so many issues, were unanimous in declaring -- no. This is probably the most important privacy ruling in the digital age. Reporter: Today's decision stems from two cases, one in California, one in Massachusetts, where police searched the phones of two men who had been arrested and found evidence of other criminal conduct. The government argued that searching a suspect's cell phone was like searching his wallet, which is allowed under the law. But writing for the court, chief justice John Roberts mocked the notion that a wallet was a analogous to today's phones -- "That is like saying a ride on horseback is indistinguishable form a flight ot the moon." Roberts concluded by saying the court was issuing a simple command to police who want to search a phone -- get a warrant. The justices did acknowledge that this opinion will make it harder for law enforcement to combat crime, but as chief justice Roberts said, privacy comes at a cost. This ruling is so sweeping in its reasoning. It's basically the court telling the government to back off from our digital lives. Terry Moran, great to have you at the supreme court tonight. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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