S.D.Cal.: Using Cellebrite to copy files on two phones and an iPad at the border was with RS and reasonable

A DHS officer took defendant’s Motorola phone, iPhone, and iPad from a Customs officer at the border when defendant was arrested for importing cocaine in her car. The Motorola phone wasn’t password protected, and it was examined with a Cellebrite device. “The Cellebrite device uses software to capture data which has not been deleted and would be visible to any manual user, including contact lists, pictures, and text messages.” She was questioned. Then the iPhone and iPad, which were password protected, were similarly searched when the officer correctly guessed the password: her birthday. This was a reasonable search under United States v. Cotterman, 709 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 2013) (en banc) because it was not a forensic search. Assuming the password protection provided an added reasonable expectation of privacy, there was reasonable suspicion. United States v. Lopez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176920 (S.D.Cal. Dec. 20, 2016):

The fact that the iPhone and the iPad were password protected using the Defendant’s date of birth did not transform the Cellebrite search into the type of computer forensic examination used in Cotterman. Even assuming, however, that the password protection on the iPhone and the iPad required additional constitutional protections, any requirement for reasonable suspicion would have been met in this case. The agents were investigating the smuggling of controlled substances into the United States. The agents had a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting” that the devices searched would contain evidence of criminal activity. United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417, 101 S. Ct. 690, 66 L. Ed. 2d 621 (1981). Under the totality of the circumstances, the Court concludes that the search in this case did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment.

This entry was posted in Border search, Cell phones, Computer searches. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.