Law enforcement is always looking for a way around that pesky Fourth Amendment, and its requirement that if cops want to conduct a search of your person or effects – including your phone — they need to get a warrant.

Turns out, technology is giving cops the angle they need to avoid the whole warrant thing, and get at information on your phone. Blame your car for the loophole:

When you plug your phone into your car to listen to your favorite band or podcast, you give police a way to rummage around in your personal data without a warrant. That includes not just GPS details but all the other information your phone shares with your car’s onboard computer.

And how has this access been used? In typically horrifying fashion:

The Intercept reported in 2021 that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had purchased “vehicle forensics” kits that can retrieve travel data, text messages, and photos from synced devices. This workaround is likely legal, because car computers seem to fall under the “vehicle exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant -requirement.

Cue the legislative fix that would close the loophole, and put your phone firmly back (for now) under the protection of the Fourth Amendment:

The Closing Warrantless Digital Car Search Loophole Act would require a warrant for such a search unless operating the vehicle requires a commercial driver’s license. Any vehicle data obtained without a warrant could not be used as a basis for probable cause or as evidence considered by courts, grand juries, or regulatory agencies.

“The idea [that] the government can peruse digital car data without a warrant should sit next to the Geo Metro on the scrap heap of history,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.), who introduced the Senate version of the bill along with Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R–Wyo.). The House sponsors are Reps. Peter Meijer (R–Mich.) and Ro Khanna (D–Calif.).

The legislation is supported by several civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “Modern vehicles can reveal as much about us as our phones—not only where we go, but who we call, and even what we weigh,” said EFF Legislative Director Lee Tien. “Yet the federal government has argued it can access this sensitive driver and passenger information freely, without a warrant.”

It’s not just a sensible solution, it’s one the Constitution demands.