While we’ve been busy filling out and remitting our taxes to the IRS, Creeping Big Brotherism proceeds at pace. Michigan state police are using “extraction devices” that tap into private data on your cell phones.
ClickOnDetroit and thenewspaper.com report that the Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan learned of the cell phone scanning devices and is asking why the state police is using the CelleBrite devices and why it is not telling the public about it.
A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.
A CelleBrite brochure describes the device’s capabilities:
“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags. The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”
The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. ACLU attorney Mark Fancher said, “It can contain information that many people consider to be private, to be beyond the reach of law enforcement and other government actors.”
In August 2008, the ACLU filed an official Freedom of Information request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. But the Michigan State Police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680 — a sum so exorbitant the ACLU found to be outrageous.
The national ACLU is also suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its policy of warrantless electronic searches of laptops and cell phones belonging to people entering the country who are not suspected of committing any crime.
H/t beloved fellow Sagebrush