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California Gov. Brown vetoes ban on warrantless phone search

updated 02:00 am EDT, Tue October 11, 2011

Abdicates to courts to appease police unions?

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown of California has vetoed a bill passed nearly unanimously by his state legislature that bans searches of people's smartphones without a warrant, a surprise decision that is seen as out-of-character for Brown and may have been motivated by monetary support from the state's police unions, Wired is reporting. The veto means that authorities can search any person's smartphone for any reason during an arrest.

Since many apps allow automatic login to services once the credentials are established, searching a phone could also give authorities access to a user's e-mail, call records, texts, photos, banking activity, remotely-managed web sites, medical records, cloud-storage services and, on Android models and un-updated iPhones, a log of where the phone has recently been. In vetoing the bill, Brown indicated that he would prefer the courts to figure out the issue, saying "the courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizure protections." Brown cited a California Supreme Court decision in January -- which the U.S. Supreme Court let stand last week -- that upheld the idea of warrantless searches of people during police incidents.

The bill passed by the legislature was a direct reaction to the California Supreme Court ruling, intended to undo it and simply require warrants for police to search through a person's smartphone. The legislature, which is heavily Democratically-controlled, passed the measure by 70-0 in the Assembly and 32-4 in the state Senate. Brown's veto ignores calls from civil liberties groups and other organizations normally allied with the governor to sign the bill.

There is evidence that Brown, who previously tended to favor individual protection from overreaching authority, may have been influenced by political donations. A number of police unions, including the Peace Officers Research Association of California, had opposed the legislation and donated a total of over $160,000 in combined contributions.

More importantly, if Brown were to seek out a second term, he would need the support of the police organizations against any Republican opponent. In 2007, there were 332,000 felony arrests in the state -- but a third of them did not result in conviction. The police unions believe that any restrictions on the ability of a police office to search an arrestee "unduly restricts their ability to apply the law, fight crime, discover evidence and protect the citizens of California," the PORAC said in a message. [via Wired]

by MacNN Staff



  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Unions F'd the USA

    This has been the downfall of America. For all the good they supposedly do, they meddle with all of us for their own good through the politicians.

  1. Arty50

    Joined: Dec 1969



    his aura smiles and never frowns.

  1. SierraDragon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I like(d) Brown

    I have always liked Brown, a lot. But his veto of this bill appalls me.

    Law enforcement is out of control and this action reinforces that. And why? What possibly is the logic? The usual "officer safety" BS does not apply. This action just allows law enforcement deep into individual privacy for no good reason.

    Brown let me down.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I guess I know who I won't be voting for in the next gubernatorial election.

  1. efithian

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Can't the legislature override the veto, or is that not possible in CA?

  1. ecormany

    Joined: Dec 1969


    yes, override possible

    and if the two houses vote exactly as they did before, the override will carry.

  1. efithian

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Sounds like a win-win for Jerry. He appeases the cops by the veto, the legislature overrides, and everybody is happy. He isn't known for his lack of insight into the legislative process.

  1. ezylstra

    Joined: Dec 1969


    We don't need no stinkin' Judicial Oversight!

    your comment

  1. facebook_Scott

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Oct 2011


    Smart Man this Jerry Brown

    Yes he is counting on and may have negineered an override while still keeping his promises to the cops unions (which should be illegal anyway)

  1. jumpwpb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "Any restrictions?

    >>>The police unions believe that any restrictions on the ability of a police office to search an arrestee "unduly restricts their ability to apply the law, fight crime, discover evidence and protect the citizens of California,"

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