Cell phone search bill buzzes along

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Despite opposition from sheriffs and prosecutors, a House subcommittee Wednesday approved a bill that would require law enforcement to get warrants before they could search cell phones and other types of electronic devices.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 12-1 to approve the measure (HB 797), sponsored by Rep. Carlos Trujillo. A bill supporter, Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez said many people probably have more personal and sensitive information on their cell phones than they do at home.

But Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri blasted the proposal, saying it could make it harder to catch criminals involved in child pornography and drug dealing. “What this bill does is protect criminals,” Gualtieri said.

The Florida Supreme Court is considering a case that stems from a police officer’s search of a cell phone.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.