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Mass. Court OKs Cellphone Searches Without Warrants

This article is more than 10 years old.

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:

This program aired on December 6, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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