Are Supremes changing the mobile landscape?


The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued two rulings that could change the mobile landscape.

In one ruling, the court unanimously ruled that police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest, according to a CNN report.

The court said that the data stored on cellphones must be protected from police inspection unless the police have a search warrant. The court determined that mobile devices are different from wallets, briefcases and vehicles, which can be searched without a warrant if there is probable cause.

"The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought," the court ruled. "Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cellphone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple--get a warrant."

In another case, the court ruled 6-3 that Aereo, a service that provides broadcast TV shows to mobile devices, violated copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programs without paying copyright fees, according to a CNBC report. The court ruled that the service was a public performance of copyrighted content, which requires payment of copyright fees.

Launched in 2012, Aereo enables customers in select U.S. cities to watch broadcast TV programs on their mobile device for a monthly fee starting at $8. The company is able to offer the service at such a low price point because it doesn't pay a copyright fee for each program.

Media mogul Barry Diller, one of the backers of Aereo, told CNBC: "We did try, but it's over now," apparently indicating that the service would be shut down.

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia argued that his company charges for the technology that delivers the content to the mobile devices, not for the content, and therefore is not infringing copyright. A majority of the Supreme Court disagreed.

Although limited to the Aereo case, the court's ruling could affect other types of services that provide content to mobile devices.

Only time will tell what ripple effects, if any, these court rulings will have on the broader mobile ecosystem. - Fred