Here in the US, there are a lot of protests going on, mostly as a part of the Occupy Wall Street campaign. I’ve no desire to get into a debate as to whether or not the motivations behind such protests are justified, as Red Ferret is about gadgets and technology. What I will do is tell you that if you should choose to participate, you will most definitely want to protect your cell phone. I’m not talking about getting a rugged case, in the event that you drop it. Rather, there are steps you might want to take to prevent unauthorized access to your device if it is confiscated.
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has put together a nice little guide to not only inform you of your rights, but also how to protect your phone’s data from being seen by unwanted eyes. One of my favorites is popping your sim card into an old phone that you might have lying around. Make sure you lock the phone with a passcode, then if something happens to it, you won’t be missing your $200+ smartphone. I’d give the whole piece a read, as it applies not just to the rallies going on right now, but it’s a good refresher of your rights, when it comes to devices such as your phone.
Think carefully about what’s on your phone before bringing it to a protest. Your phone contains a wealth of private data, which can include your list of contacts, the people you have recently called, your text messages, photos and video, GPS location data, your web browsing history and passwords, and the contents of your social media accounts. We believe that the police are required to get a warrant to obtain this information, but the government sometimes asserts a right to search a phone incident to arrest — without a warrant. (And in some states, including California, courts have said this is OK.) To protect your rights, you may want to harden your existing phone against searches. You should also consider bringing a throwaway or alternate phone to the protest that does not contain sensitive data and which you would not mind losing or parting with for a while. If you have a lot of sensitive or personal information on your phone, the latter might be a better option