Seizing mobile phones has become part of routine policing, here is why it needs to change


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From Hyderabad police snatching phones on streets to check for ‘ganja’ to Delhi police seizing journalist Mohammed Zubair’s devices for a tweet, such seizures have become a routine part of policing. After all, with modern technology, our personal devices have become repositories of our whole lives. So it gives the police easy access to all our information in one place, making investigations that much easier.

But do you want the police to have access to everything about you? Not only is it a concern because of our right to privacy, but also there have been allegations of the police planting evidence on such devices. So where does the law stand on this and what are our rights? To find out, host Suryatapa Mukherjee speaks to tech and legal researcher and human rights activist Usha Ramanathan in this episode of The Suno India Show.

This interview happened before the Supreme Court upheld the Enforcement Directorate’s powers relating to arrest, attach property, search and seize under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).


Criminal Procedure Bill: Break a law and the police can store your personal information - Suno India
Criminal Procedure Bill: Data collection can lead to surveillance by different govt bodies - Suno India
How the Tarun Tejpal verdict set back the rape law reforms - Suno India
Zubair’s arrest: Can a journalist be forced to hand over his electronic devices to the police? | Scroll
Bhima Koregaon: Forensic report says key evidence against jailed activist was planted | The News Minute
Riley v. California (06/25/2014)

See for privacy information.


1. Introduction (00:00:16)

2. How seizure of phones became routine (00:02:29)

3. What the constitution says (00:05:43)

4. The slippery slope in police work (00:09:47)

5. Court judgments on the matter (00:14:19)

6. Chat histories can be used against victims (00:19:18)

7. Should there be safeguards for journos (00:22:11)

8. Planting of evidence on devices (00:27:03)

9. The way forward (00:29:02)

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