Think about this while you are driving around this Memorial Day weekend. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan claims that for several years now Michigan State Police have been using portable devices that allow them to secretly extract personal information from cell phones In an a article on Help Net Security the ACLU says that the troopers have used the devices on cell phones of people pulled over for minor traffic infractions as well as people suspected of a crime.
The article says most of the devices used are from CelleBrite and can extract a great number of data from most cell phones, including contacts, text messages, deleted text messages, call history, pictures, audio and video recordings, memory file dumps and more. GeekOSystems says the Cellebrite UFED Physical Pro Scanner (cut-sheet), were tested by the U.S Department of Justice. The DOJ reported the device was capable of pulling all photos and video from an Apple (AAPL) iPhone in under a minute and a half. Cellebrite says their devices also can extract, “existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags.” It can also extract your highly incriminating ringtones. These devices can also get around password protection, and work on over 3,000 cellphone models according to the web-site.
The ACLU is concerned that the MSP is using these devices to conduct warrantless searches without consent or a search warrant in violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Help Net Security reports that the ACLU of Michigan as been requesting information about MSP’s use of these devices for nearly three years by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to the Michigan State Police. The ACLU wants the troopers to reveal the data it collected, but it had no luck so far. The article indicates that the MSP is stonewalling the ACLU’s Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests resulting in possible court action.
Following those accusations, the Michigan State Police posted their side of the story in an official statement published on its website according to another Help Net Security article. The MSP says it has, “fulfilled at least one ACLU FOIA request on this issue …” The web-posting also claims that devices that the MSP has in its possession can’t extract data without the officer actually having the owner’s mobile device in his hand and they claim the scanners are properly used, “The DEDs (data extraction devices) are not being used to extract citizens’ personal information during routine traffic stops,” it explains. “The MSP only uses the DEDs if a search warrant is obtained or if the person possessing the mobile device gives consent.”
Wonder why the government keeps trying make talking on a cell phone while driving a primary offense? Could it be so the government has an excuse to stop people and collect their personal data? The last sentence from the MSP is particularly chilling since people are strongly encouraged to cooperate with the police even when they know they did nothing criminal. Warrantless searches violate the protection against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Secure motoring in Michigan!
What do you think?
Are smartphones losing their appeal because of all the privacy holes?
Does anyone care about privacy anymore?
Has a cop ever picked up your smartphone?
- Cops refuse to say if they secretly snarf cellphone data (go.theregister.com)