A divided Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that police can conduct a limited search of suspect’s cellphone without getting a search warrant, but they must follow strict rules.

By a 4-3 margin, the court said in a precedent-setting ruling that the search must be directly related to the circumstances of a person’s arrest and the police must keep detailed records of the search.

Three dissenting justices said the police must get a search warrant in all cases except in rare instances where there is a danger to the public or the police, or if evidence could be destroyed.

It is the first Supreme Court ruling on cellphone privacy, an issue that has spawned a series of divergent lower court rulings.

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