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Ketchikan has seen better days when it comes to the state Legislature.

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Hazel Lydia Snapp, 70, died Nov. 17, 2014, in Seattle.
6/28/2014
Privacy wins

Personal privacy trumps unwarranted searches when it comes to cellphones, which is as it should be.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 9-0 unanimous decision ruled this week police may not search cellphones without a warrant.

Considering that most folks keep endless amounts of personal information on their phones, this is a welcome decision. While it limits police initially, it doesn't prevent cellphone searches altogether. Just like with homes, automobiles, purses and the like, police still can appeal to a judge for a warrant to search.

Exceptions would include if an officer's safety was being compromised without a search. Officers also could search if they had probable cause that a crime had been committed or feared that evidence on a phone might be destroyed.

Of course, a person with a phone the police wanted to search could be detained, along with the cell, until a search warrant had been secured. Police aren't prevented from doing their job. At the same time, it might take longer.

But the delay in order to protect personal privacy is more than reasonable.

Most cellphones contain personal contact numbers, text messages, photographs and video or recordings of conversations.

The ruling came as a result of convicts appealing the right of police to search their phones and discover information that linked them to criminal activity.

This ruling is likely just the first in similar ones to come. It addresses cellphones. It doesn't address other technology, some of which is in development and unavailable for sale as yet.

As technology advances, privacy issues regarding it will be before the courts.

We live in a time with rapidly eroding privacy — partly because of our own actions of sharing every aspect of our lives on social media. We make it easy for others, including the police, to learn about us. But that doesn't mean that we give up our right to privacy.

Nor should it.