Toronto, Dec 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court of Canada has given the police the power to search cellphones of suspects in a crime, provided they follow certain steps.
The Dec. 11 court ruling came as a setback to privacy advocates, Gigaom reported.
The case involved a jewellery robbery May 23 in which two suspects were arrested by police and an incriminating text message and a picture of a handgun were found in one of their cellphones.
The picture and the SMS text were later used as evidence to convict the two.
The suspects had argued that the search of their cellphones violated their constitutional rights as it took place without a warrant.
It was argued that the cellphones were like house keys, and police could not search a suspect's house simply because they had the key in their pocket.
A majority of the judges in the seven-member panel deciding the case agreed that cellphones were like personal computers now, but said a warrant was not necessary in the case.
As long as the police limited the scope of their search, and they took notes of what they were doing, the judges ruled against the suspects' right to privacy.
Three judges, however, differed in their opinion, saying the cellphones were like house keys, and police could not search a suspect's house simply because they had the key in their pocket.
The ruling was finally given in favour of search of suspects' cellphones by police.