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Privacy Advocate Urges Washington State to Protect Text Messages

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights advocacy organization, is asking the Washington state Supreme Court to require law enforcement officers to obtain a court-issued warrant before reading text messages on someone’s mobile phone. The EFF contends that text messages “are the 21st Century phone call” and thus deserve the same level of protection from interception without court-issued warrants. The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled, in support of a state appellate court decision, that text messages are neither private nor covered by the US Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Washington debate stems from a case in which police arrested a suspected drug dealer and looked at text messages on his phone. They then assumed the identity of the suspect and responded to one message, arranged a meeting and subsequently arrested the recipient. All these actions occurred without a warrant. The state claims text messages carry no expectation of privacy. The EFF claims law enforcement should demonstrate probable cause and obtain a warrant to access texts. (SlashDot)(Network World)(Electronic Frontier Foundation)

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