By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff
The state’s highest court ruled today that police in Massachusetts do not necessarily need a search warrant to look at the call list of a person’s cellphone when searching personal property following an arrest.
But in two rulings involving the arrest of suspected drug dealers by Boston police, a unanimous Supreme Judicial Court said it would decide at another time whether people had constitutional rights to privacy for other cellphone contents, such as texts and e-mails.
“Today’s cellular telephones are essentially computers, capable of storing enormous quantities of information, personal, private, and otherwise, in many different forms,’’ Justice Margot Botsford wrote for the court.
Botsford wrote that the court was leaving “open for another day questions concerning whether, when a cellular telephone is validly seized incident to arrest, it may always, or at least generally, be searched without a warrant, and, if so, the permissible extent of such a search.”
It was the first time the court had addressed the issue of the privacy of cellphone contents. The issue is being scrutinized by other courts across the country.