What to Do When the Police Want to Search Your Digital Devices

Here’s a quick guide from the EFF on what to do when the police comes knocking asking to search your digital devices.

[EFF]





22 Responses to What to Do When the Police Want to Search Your Digital Devices

  1. Good advice.  Just wondering, If a police officer starts to search a spot that is not in the warrant, how do you stop them without obstructing their search?

    • I'm willing to bet you can't, but remember that anything they find isn't admissible evidence if it is outside the cope of their warrant.  (I *think*…  not a lawyer.  :) )

      • Speaking as a former officer, their training even fully states they can't even look where the item in question is not expected to be hidden. In other words, if their warrant says they're here for a TV, they can't seize you car. Additionally, if a warrant says they're looking for a specific TV, like a 40" plasma, then they cannot go sifting through your sock drawer. Violation of these conditions means that not only is the item in question inadmissible, but even the item they're looking for can be inadmissible as well.

    • Just say something like "The warrant doesn't include this area and I don't consent to any searches not assigned by the warrant".   That way even if they do search it they can't use anything they find in court as Lars730 said.

    • Just say something like "The warrant doesn't include this area and I don't consent to any searches not assigned by the warrant".   That way even if they do search it they can't use anything they find in court as Lars730 said.

    • Just say something like "The warrant doesn't include this area and I don't consent to any searches not assigned by the warrant".   That way even if they do search it they can't use anything they find in court as Lars730 said.

    • Just say something like "The warrant doesn't include this area and I don't consent to any searches not assigned by the warrant".   That way even if they do search it they can't use anything they find in court as Lars730 said.

    • They aren't suppose to begin without or consent or a warrant.
      If they conduct a search without your consent, get their badge number(s). If they try to use an excuse like "potential immanent danger" (i.e. they thought you were carrying a weapon or device that posed an immediate threat to anyone in the immediate vicinity – and the only way to conduct a search without a warrant or consent), ask for specifics. What do they think you are about to do, how do they think you're going to do it, where specifically do they think you are going to do it, etc, and limit them to these criteria. This keeps them from saying "they thought", when all they really wanted was to search you for something unrelated.
      Also, know your local laws. Know what is illegal, and what isn't. If you know something is *not* illegal, never consent to a search on those grounds – because if they find something that *is* illegal (even if it wasn't what the search was originally for), then they can get you on that.

    • They aren’t suppose to begin without or consent or a warrant.
      If they conduct a search without your consent, get their badge number(s). If they try to use an excuse like “potential immanent danger” (i.e. they thought you were carrying a weapon or device that posed an immediate threat to anyone in the immediate vicinity – and the only way to conduct a search without a warrant or consent), ask for specifics. What do they think you are about to do, how do they think you’re going to do it, where specifically do they think you are going to do it, etc, and limit them to these criteria. This keeps them from saying “they thought”, when all they really wanted was to search you for something unrelated.
      Also, know your local laws. Know what is illegal, and what isn’t. If you know something is *not* illegal, never consent to a search on those grounds – because if they find something that *is* illegal (even if it wasn’t what the search was originally for), then they can get you on that.

  2. Good advice.  Just wondering, If a police officer starts to search a spot that is not in the warrant, how do you stop them without obstructing their search?

    • Points for Haiku….even the tech guys will be confused. In addition, it should be noting that saying "no" does not imply guilt. You have a right to privacy and no amount of social pressure or assumption should allow you to think otherwise.

    • Points for Haiku….even the tech guys will be confused. In addition, it should be noting that saying “no” does not imply guilt. You have a right to privacy and no amount of social pressure or assumption should allow you to think otherwise.

  3. something i learned recently because of that guy entering Canada with manga: the border exception doctrine. i was shocked to learn that entering or leaving the US, Customs and Border Protection can search your belongings and devices without any warrant.

  4. something i learned recently because of that guy entering Canada with manga: the border exception doctrine. i was shocked to learn that entering or leaving the US, Customs and Border Protection can search your belongings and devices without any warrant.

    • ….or at least the directors once in a while. Would also do well to illustrate that just because someone refuses consent, doesn’t mean they’re guilty. Social pressure is a bitch like that.

    • ….or at least the directors once in a while. Would also do well to illustrate that just because someone refuses consent, doesn't mean they're guilty. Social pressure is a bitch like that.