Judge: Your Seized Phone Can Be Used to Impersonate You to Spy on Your Friends

Illustration for article titled Judge: Your Seized Phone Can Be Used to Impersonate You to Spy on Your Friends

A judge has ruled that if your phone is seized by the police, it's completely legal for them to send and receive text messages pretending to be you to try to convince your contacts to incriminate themselves. What?


Story goes, in 2009, police seized a phone that belonged to Daniel Lee, a suspected drug dealer. And then the phone received a text the cops presumed to be a request for drugs.

Here's what happened next:

"[Detective John] Sawyer spent about 5 or 10 minutes looking at some of the text messages on the iPhone; he also looked to see who had been calling. Many of the text messages that Lee's iPhone had received and stored were from individuals who were seeking drugs from Lee."


And that's totally fine. The judge's explanation includes this:

"On his own iPhone, on his own computer, or in the process of electronic transit, Hinton's communications are shielded by our constitutions.But after their arrival, Hinton's text messages on Lee's iPhone were no longer private or deserving of constitutional protection."

As Ars Technica points out, it's mobile phones are tough because they touch on the precedent established for traditional phones, computers, and filing cabinets. But man, that's a tough one to swallow. [Ars Technica via Boing Boing]

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One too many toughs, I think?

The title sounds like the detective impersonated Lee by actively texting back to said criminals trying to get them to incriminate themselves. But the quote from the judge just says it was okay for the detective to Read the texts, but never mentions anything about sending texts as Lee.

Am I the only one lost?