ACLU asks if police are secretly stealing phone data

Our phones store a treasure trove of data for not only companies like Google and Apple, but also for law enforcement as well. There are forensic devices available that allow a person to connect a cell phone to it and suck all of the data off in less than two minutes, and many police departments have purchased these devices for use in their investigations. These devices can restore deleted files, phone numbers, and text messages off of the phone’s memory for later analysis, and can even bypass the password security on the device.

Now the ACLU wants to know if Michigan police officers are using these devices to capture data from the phones of people who are being pulled over for routine traffic stops. According to eWeek, the civil rights organization has made more than 70 requests to the police department under the Freedom of Information Act, but has been rebuffed each time. Now the Michigan police department is agreeing to comply, but have stated that the ACLU will have to pay over $500,000 for “processing fees.”

For their part, the police department has stated that they are not using the devices during routine traffic stops but have yet to provide information to prove this stance. However, one has to wonder where the half a million dollar processing fee comes from if there is no actual data to share with the ACLU.

Image Courtesy of Cellebrite.com

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15 Comments

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Are there any recorded incidents of people being asked to hand over their phones, sounds bizarre the cops would even ask.

Depicus said,
Are there any recorded incidents of people being asked to hand over their phones, sounds bizarre the cops would even ask.

"Sir, I need to see your phone to ensure that you weren't texting while driving."

Fezmid said,

"Sir, I need to see your phone to ensure that you weren't texting while driving."

Guilty until proven otherwise?
At least I'd ask to reveal under which laws such actions were legal.

GS:ios

Glassed Silver said,

Guilty until proven otherwise?
At least I'd ask to reveal under which laws such actions were legal.

That doesn't mean that everyone will do the same, and the ACLU wants to ensure that it's not happening at all.

chadlachlanross said,
You are not required to hand over your phone on a routine traffic stop.

I'm sure many (most?) people would simply comply if a police officer said, "I need to see your phone."

chadlachlanross said,
You are not required to hand over your phone on a routine traffic stop.

You're not required to do a lot of things, but it's always their word against yours unless you've got some witnesses.

It seems to me that their is some civil rights violations occurring here. What gives the police the right to pull someone over and scan their phone and pull down all their data? What is going to stop an officer from pulling over attractive females and downloading their phones and potential pictures? "They" say they are not doing this, but every time someone says we should trust them it is the opposite. If a police officer wants to see your phone records then they should do it the proper way. I see horrible things happening here eventually: underage pictures, naked pictures, private information ending up on the internet. The police here are venturing into a realm they shouldn't be walking on.

grewnd33 said,
What is going to stop an officer from pulling over attractive females and downloading their phones and potential pictures?
Being also a pig, I have nothing against this.

Albert Bonici said,
Even the cops look like data thieves...

What If the cops were hired by the phone companies .....

LOL! So they're pulling people over and saying, "Give me your phone!"

Kudos to ACLU for trying to get to the bottom of this although the $500k price tag is just nuts. I hope they sue to get past it. It's clear the police department is trying to derail them with a huge fee.

Tim Dawg said,
LOL! So they're pulling people over and saying, "Give me your phone!"

Kudos to ACLU for trying to get to the bottom of this although the $500k price tag is just nuts. I hope they sue to get past it. It's clear the police department is trying to derail them with a huge fee.

If a cop asked me for my phone - I would either say "GET F***ED" or "Don't have one"

Tim Dawg said,
LOL! So they're pulling people over and saying, "Give me your phone!"

Kudos to ACLU for trying to get to the bottom of this although the $500k price tag is just nuts. I hope they sue to get past it. It's clear the police department is trying to derail them with a huge fee.

Yeah, it's outrageous... And cops wonder why people don't feel they can trust them...