Your cell phone can give police a lot of information about you
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 last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.
ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.
"Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide," ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. "No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure."
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.
"Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags," a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device's capabilities. "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. . . .
Meanwhile smart phones can apparently keep the information on your movements for the last year.
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.
For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010. . . .
UPDATE: Google also apparently keeps this data also and keeps even more detailed data such as the name of the phone user.
In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier. . . .
UPDATE: MSNBC goes off the deep end and claims that there is a racial bias to all this. How the fact that blacks are using their phones more often is irrelevant to this. This information is being collected whether one is using the phone or not as long as the phone is turned on.
“Well, look, you know, a lot of African-Americans and Latino-Americans are victims of racial profiling,” Wilson said. “We know that, you know we’re using these phones and are using the devices more frequently. So, this raised a huge issue. California Supreme Court just recently ruled that police officers can swipe or can take information from your cell phones upon arrest. So, we know that just by nature of the fact that we are stopped more, that we’re arrested more, that we’re going to be subject to this sort of technology more.” . . .
UPDATE: TomTom to Bar Police Data Use
The use by police of navigation equipment maker TomTom NV's data to position speed cameras looks to have been limited to the Netherlands, but the company still has to lay out more clearly how it protects the privacy of its customers, Chief Executive Harold Goddijn said.
Last week, it emerged that police in certain Dutch provinces used data collected by TomTom to better plan where to locate speed traps, causing an outcry in the country and forcing Mr. Goddijn to apologize in e-mails to its customers and in full-page advertisements in Dutch newspapers.
The company can't guarantee "a hundred percent" that the issue was limited to its home market of the Netherlands, but there is no indication right now that it occurred in other countries, Mr. Goddijn said in an interview Monday.
Meanwhile, the company's customers appreciated its "open communication" over the issue and doesn't expect its reputation to be harmed, he said. . . .