EFF Launches Updated Know Your Rights Guide

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EFF - Know your rights - digital searchIf the police come knock­ing at your door, the con­sti­tu­tion offers you some pro­tec­tion. But the con­sti­tu­tion is just a piece of paper—if you don’t know how to assert your rights. And even if you do assert your rights…what hap­pens next? That answer may seem com­pli­cat­ed, but pro­tect­ing your­self is sim­ple if you know your rights.

That’s why EFF has launched an updat­ed Know Your Rights Guide that explains your legal rights when law enforce­ment try to search the data stored on your com­put­er, cell phone or oth­er elec­tron­ic device.

The guide clar­i­fies when the police can search devices, describes what to do if police do (or don’t) have a war­rant, and explains what hap­pens if the police can’t get into a device because of encryp­tion or oth­er secu­ri­ty mea­sures.

Our guide is up to date as of Octo­ber 2014, and will always indi­cate when it was last updat­ed. While the Con­sti­tu­tion stays the same, there are con­stant­ly new court opin­ions inter­pret­ing the law in light of new tech­nolo­gies. Since we first pub­lished a Know Your Rights whitepa­per in 2011, state and fed­er­al courts, includ­ing the US Supreme Court, have issued key opin­ions that affect rights around search and seizure. In an impor­tant 2012 deci­sion in Unit­ed States v. Jones, the US Supreme Court ruled police could not install a GPS device onto a car with­out a search war­rant. And in the sem­i­nal 2014 case Riley v. Cal­i­for­nia, the same court ruled an arrest isn’t suf­fi­cient rea­son to search a cell phone with­out a war­rant. We expect there to be many new cas­es inter­pret­ing Jones and Riley to oth­er forms of tech­nolo­gies, and will keep our Guide updat­ed with those new devel­op­ments.

Remem­ber, when it comes to your legal rights, what you don’t know can hurt you. Read our guide, share it with your friends and fam­i­ly, and be pre­pared!