Data stored on personal cell phones is not protected by the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled.
As mobile technology changes rapidly, legal questions remain about the extent of digital privacy protection.
The Fifth Circuit determined that the act does not protect information stored on personal devices such as cell phones, laptops and personal computers. The lawsuit was brought by a former police dispatcher who was dismissed after photos and text messages on her cell phone revealed that she was violating police department rules. The plaintiff's cell phone was removed from her locker and searched without her permission.
The SCA only protects "facilit[ies] through which an electronic communication service is provided" and not the device that is used to access those communication services, the court explained.