Michigan State Police Snooping in Cell Phones?
Popular Mechanics earlier this week had a story (click here for link) which alleges the Michigan State Police have the ability to snoop into a person’s cell phone within a matter of minutes after being exposed to it.
Lately, cellphones have become valuable sources of evidence for police, since one phone can include almost all of an individual’s private communications (SMS, recently dialed numbers, email, Facebook and Twitter posts) as well as location data from the device’s GPS unit. The device used by the Michigan State Police is a portable forensic system called the Cellebrite UFED that can suck data from a variety of devices, including multiple Android phones and Apple iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
I don’t know about you, but something like this scares me. Where does the line between personal property, and liberty, and the need for law enforcement to know drawn? Apparently, if you’re in Michigan it ends the moment a cop decides to engage you in a traffic stop, conversation or something else.
The ACLU has taken issue with this and they are currently fighting the State of Michigan in court.
This type of forensic device is nothing new, but the ACLU’s concern is that the UFED mobile units might have been used in routine traffic stops—which, the ACLU contends, would violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure. According to the ACLU’s letter, the organization requested usage logs from the Michigan troopers’ devices, but the state police requested more than half a million dollars to pay for retrieval of the documents and records, which the ACLU claims is unreasonably high.
So, while the ACLU is fighting the State of Michigan, the larger question at-hand is: what other state and municipal agencies are using these types of devices against the public?
As we know, law enforcement is human and there are those among the ranks that have taken advantage of the public’s trust in the past. Could you imagine how strong the temptation could be to use the smorgasbord of information just one UFED could possess?
I hope the ALCU wins this battle, because I would hate to see the consequences for the nation if this type of ‘policing’ spreads.