If you need another reason to turn on the auto password lock timer on your phone, this is it! The California Supreme court determined through a majority 5-2 decision today that if you are arrested a cop can search the entire contents of your cell phone without a warrant. Justices Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos Moreno wrote in dissent,

“The potential intrusion on informational privacy involved in a police search of a person‟s mobile phone, smartphone or handheld computer is unique among searches of an arrestee’s person and effects.”

I have to agree with the fact that a cell phone can contain as much information as a full filing cabinet that you would keep in your home. If you need a warrant to open a filing cabinet, then I would argue that you need a warrant to see the contents of the cell phone. And you just know that cops will abuse this and search cell phones before making the decision to arrest you.

The best protection is to turn on encryption and the auto lock timer feature so that your phone locks automatically when not in use. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to put in your password every single time, but your privacy is worth it in the long run should you ever be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A couple in Arizona takes bath time photos of their kids to a local Wal-Mart.  An obviously highly trained Wal-Mart employee decides that the photos are porn and notifies police.  The local police agree and investigate; child protective services take away kids for a month; the parents lose their jobs and are placed in the Arizona sex offenders registry; and the parents spend $75k in legal bills.  At the end of the day, the the couple were cleared of charges and now, they are suing Wal-Mart.

If you ask me, they should probably sue the local police department detectives that agreed with a Wal-Mart employee and launched an investigation.  Realistically, this should have stopped after the first phone call instead of snowballing into arrests, investigations, and criminal charges.

Should parents fear printing bath time photos from now on?

Several lawsuits have been filed against Yelp users that have posted bad reviews and featured in newspaper articles.  There may be many more lawsuits that have not been reported.  Additionally, some people are threatened with lawsuits that are sometimes never filed in order for companies to get negative information removed from the Yelp website.

A friend of mine used a cleaning service to clean her house, didn’t like the service and posted a bad review.  Months after, she was contacted by an attorney.  The cleaning company hired a lawyer to try and scare my friend into taking down the negative review.  She decided to take down the negative review but posted another review explaining that she was contacted by a lawyer after leaving a negative review.

What would these businesses do if the entire Yelp community decides to boycott businesses that sue, or threaten to sue, people that post negative reviews?  I think that those businesses would suffer much worse losses than those warranted by a bad review or two.  Can Yelp stay in business if people are afraid to post negative reviews?  It will be interesting to see what happens in the long run.