Riley v. California: A Pyrrhic Victory for Privacy Rights?

16 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2015 Last revised: 30 Jun 2015

See all articles by Adam Lamparello

Adam Lamparello

Georgia College and State University; Assistant Professor of Public Law

Date Written: February 27, 2015


In Riley v. California, the United States Supreme Court ushered privacy protections into the digital era and signaled that the Fourth Amendment would not become a constitutional afterthought. The Court unanimously held that, absent exigent circumstances, law enforcement officers could not search any area of an arrestee’s cell phone, including the outgoing call log, without a warrant and probable cause. At first glance, Riley appears to be a landmark decision in favor of individual privacy rights. As with most things, however, the devil is in the details, and the details in Riley make any celebration over the seemingly enhanced protections for privacy rights premature.

Keywords: Riley v. California, Fourth Amendment, Smith v. Maryland, Third-Party Doctrine, United States v. Miller, NSA Metadata Collection

JEL Classification: K40, K23

Suggested Citation

Lamparello, Adam and Lamparello, Adam, Riley v. California: A Pyrrhic Victory for Privacy Rights? (February 27, 2015). Journal of Law, Technology and Policy, Vol. 3, Available at SSRN: or

Adam Lamparello (Contact Author)

Assistant Professor of Public Law ( email )

Georgia College and State University ( email )

Milledgeville, GA 31061-0490
United States

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