The Associated Press

Mass. Court OKs Cellphone Searches Without Warrants

BOSTON — The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that police do not necessarily need a search warrant to look at a list of cellphone calls made by someone who has been arrested.

The unanimous decision issued by the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday does not apply to other cellphone contents, including text messages and emails.

The case involved a drug dealer who was arrested in July 2011. Police found his cellphone number on a phone owned by a known drug user.

A district court judge ruled that police acted within their legal authority because police have long been allowed to search for evidence of a crime from the person and their belongings when they are booking someone at the police station. The high court agreed.

Privacy experts questioned the decision.

Jeffrey Hermes, director of the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, joined WBUR Morning Edition host Bob Oakes to discuss the ruling. Listen to that interview below:

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  • X-Ray

    Another diminution of Citizen’s privacy rights.

  • J__o__h__n

    What is the law regarding land lines? I don’t think there should be a difference.

  • randitheesan

    Good job left wingers.

  • Eric

    How can you fault the “left wingers?” The most staunch advocates for citizens rights are on the left. If it were up to conservatives, corporations would be “people” and citizens would have no privacy from corporations or the government… in the name of security and free markets, of course.

  • Jaibeez

    The biggest problem I have with this is the fact you can be arrested whether or not you actually did anything warranting an arrest. If you are arrested and indicted, then the phone records should be fair game for the trial.

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