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The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants. The court said cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest. Because the phones contain so much information, Chief Justice John Robert said, police must get a warrant before looking through them. But the defendants in these cases, backed by civil libertarians, librarians and news media groups, argued that cellphones, especially smartphones, are increasingly powerful computers that can store troves of sensitive personal information. In the cases decided Wednesday, one defendant carried a smartphone and the other carried an older flip phone.

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