Thursday, February 28, 2013

How much data can police swipe from suspects’ phones without a warrant? (Hint: A lot)

Call logs, text messages, geo-locations and even data relating to proprietary technologies, such as Apple’s iMessage service: All of these can be downloaded by U.S. law enforcement when a suspect’s phone is plugged in and the data harvested for intelligence purposes.

Up until now, most had no idea exactly what was collected or how it could be used, though it was believed this data could be acquired.

Discovered by the U.S.-based privacy group, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), we now have a much clearer image of how much data from a seized cell phone or smartphone the U.S. government gets when a suspect’s phone is plugged into a data collection device.

A court document submitted in connection with a drugs investigation shows that even Web history, data files, wireless networks and the user’s custom dictionary are downloaded when advanced forensic tools are connected to a suspect’s device.

Also collected were the device’s geo-location points, including cell towers, allowing authorities to pinpoint roughly where the device—and therefore the suspect—may have been geographically.

And because many use their cell phones and smartphones to access email on the move, it could allow authorities access to a goldmine of data—whether it’s used in the investigation or otherwise. This ultimately may allow authorities to bypass the need to submit subpoenas or search warrants — under the Stored Communications Act — to Apple, Google, Microsoft and others who provide email services, because the email data is already stored on the suspects’ device.

Full article: … nt-a-lot-7000011891/

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