Mobile Technology and Data at Rest

If you have not read the Riley case, read it before answering this Forum.

Robinson (Robinson v. United States, 414 U.S. 218 (1973)) established a “categorical” search incident to arrest rule: it applied to all arrests, regardless of the underlying factual circumstances. All of the pre-Gant litigation after Robinson concerned the scope of the permissible area searched: the body of the arrestee; the area around him; the vehicle in which he was arrested. Gant created a new rule for searches of motor vehicles incident to arrest and the two situations where a search are permitted is stated in the case: the police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest (A) only when the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or (B) when it is “reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.” Can hard drives, which are typically used to store music to play on the vehicle’s sound system, be searched? What about vehicle “black boxes,” that is, event recorders, which register many of the operations of the vehicle, including speed, braking, and air bag deployment? Or does Riley trump Gant, requiring a warrant?