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Michigan Police Could Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops 525

Posted by timothy
from the gentlemen-do-not-read-each-other's-texts dept.
SonicSpike writes "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. A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and videos 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." Popular Mechanics has a short conversation with a 4th Amendment lawyer about the practice of slurping cellphone data, too, though it's unclear if the Michigan police are actually using these devices to their full potential.
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Michigan Police Could Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops

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  • by rhook (943951) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @07:11PM (#35874880)

    Most people do not go after the officers for deprivation of civil rights under color of authority (USC 1983 violation), which leaves them with civil and criminal liability and also bars their unions and departments of the ability to pay their legal fees. If more people would file these lawsuits against officers who violate their rights the practice would end very quickly.

  • by ironjaw33 (1645357) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @07:12PM (#35874890)
    Neither of the articles are clear about this, but from the picture, I assume that the "snooping" device actually has to be physically connected with the phone via USB. I hacked my Nexus One to enable USB host mode, which effectively disables client mode. Any connected device won't be able to mount my SD card or onboard storage.
  • Re:OUTRAGEOUS cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @07:31PM (#35875082)

    My dad likes to file FOIA requests when the police in his home town (of 1 million people) do something illegal. They frequently quote absurd fees, after which he leaves and comes back with an officer of the court who makes them do it for free. He should have been a lawyer. Or maybe the world is better off with one fewer lawyer and one more electrical engineer.

  • Re:Erase your phone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @07:35PM (#35875128) Homepage Journal

    You're not obstructing justice if you're not a suspect or a material witness ... IANAL.

    That question you see lawyers ask on TV all the time? You should ask it. "Am I being charged with something officer?"

    Of course, people are afraid of police abuse (for good reason) and just do what's asked of them anyway.

    IMHO the police should realize who they serve.

  • Re:OUTRAGEOUS cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by causality (777677) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @07:39PM (#35875170)

    My dad likes to file FOIA requests when the police in his home town (of 1 million people) do something illegal. They frequently quote absurd fees, after which he leaves and comes back with an officer of the court who makes them do it for free. He should have been a lawyer. Or maybe the world is better off with one fewer lawyer and one more electrical engineer.

    Seriously, cops seem to wonder why they're not better appreciated and respected. No sense of irony.

    As a whole, it's not like the police have a great deal of respect for citizens who exercise their rights. So I have to wonder: do they retaliate? Do they suddenly take a really hard look at his driving and see how many things they can charge him with that they'd normally let slide? Do they insist on searching him for guns/drugs/dead hookers/etc. every time he gets pulled over for i.e. speeding?

  • by causality (777677) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @08:21PM (#35875562)

    Just, rest assured, cops rarely get away with it if you have a decent lawyer.

    It takes a damn good lawyer to get a cop tried for deprivation of rights under color of law. It ought to happen every time the exclusionary rule is applied.

    I know an easier way to make this happen. Convince the cell phone manufacturers and service providers that laws and practices like this are hurting phone sales by removing some of the utility of the phones and making them into a potential liability. Then we'd finally have large, powerful, monied, well-represented coporate interests lobbying in our favor. Suddenly this practice would end in record time.

  • Re:OUTRAGEOUS cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blincoln (592401) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @08:23PM (#35875576) Homepage Journal

    "As a whole, it's not like the police have a great deal of respect for citizens who exercise their rights. So I have to wonder: do they retaliate? Do they suddenly take a really hard look at his driving and see how many things they can charge him with that they'd normally let slide? Do they insist on searching him for guns/drugs/dead hookers/etc. every time he gets pulled over for i.e. speeding?"

    Probably.

    A friend of mine went to court to get out of a speeding ticket. I'm guessing it was a fairly high-priced ticket, because when he was successful, the police waited a year or more, then filed a completely made-up charge of "driving without a license" (he was in his late 30s, and had been a licensed driver for several decades). The charge/requirement to show up in court was mailed to him... at his old address, because he'd moved during the time in-between those two events.

    When he didn't show up in court (because he never received the thing that was mailed to his old address), he automatically lost, and an *additional* count of "flight to evade prosecution" was added. But he still didn't know about any of this. He found out when he was pulled over something like *another* year or two later for an illegal lane change in an intersection. At that point he was immediately taken into custody and sent to jail (because clearly he was a convicted felon with no respect for the law). He talked to a lawyer and was told that because judgment had already taken place (back when the original bogus charge made its uncontested court appearance), it would cost something like $30K to contest it. It was cheaper for him to spend three months in county jail.

    So yeah, the police don't exactly have any reservations about abusing the system if they feel that it's being done to punish someone they believe deserves it.

  • Re:it's a trap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swb (14022) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @08:25PM (#35875598)

    That was my first idea, too -- what happens when a 1500 mAh battery discharges into the data pins in 2 seconds? While smoking one of their multihousand dollar devices sounds like a good idea, I'm sure it would cause other problems..

    A better idea is a device that mimics the data protocol of the phone model it represents but instead outputs 1000 or more times of data, ideally canned data, like copies of the constitution, video of the Rodney King beating, etc

  • Re:Remember when... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:55PM (#35876578)

    No?

    Are you talking about after ww2 when mccarthyism was rampant and filthy commies could be persecuted on no evidence?

    Or perhaps ww1 when protesting the war got you sent to jail?

    The civil war eras where people were lynched for supporting emancipation?

    Soon after the revolution where British sympathizers were branded traitors and the witch hunt that ensued?

    I don't know where you live, but in the real world crazy shot like this has always happened.

  • Re:Erase your phone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @10:57PM (#35876592)

    IMHO the police should realize who they serve.

    Most all of them do realize who they serve. The American slave labor industry, which they call by the nickname 'the penal system'

    The legal slave labor industry brings in billions of dollars a year, and all the police need to do is keep them stocked with fresh innocent workers. Kickbacks are made to the police departments and related government departments from these prisons for their work.

    Since the excuse the police use to avoid being shot and killed on site is that only criminals will be placed into slave labor, they are faced with the problem of having very very few potential workers.
    Because of this, their task is to frame as many innocent people as they possibly can as criminals. In this way, they can quite literally pick as many random people off the street as they need to meet the prisons slave quotas.

    For anyone that says not all cops are bad, just remember that a lot of them are involved in these crimes against humanity, and for the rest they stand at the side line knowing and letting this happen. Also remember that a person can be both a bad cop and a good person at the same time. This is typically what one means by "good cop". They are not a good cop, they are a bad cop, just a good person.

    The true problem is that a lot of cops are both bad cops and bad people.

    ALL cops know there are a lot of other cops are just petty criminal thugs, which means by definition all cops are bad, even if some cops are very much worse than others.

    The only good cop is one that has left the force on their own, or who is dead.

    The cop that doesn't commit any crimes him/her self is not evil or a destructive force to humanity of course, and they do not deserve the hate as the rest of the police force does that so casually murders, tortures, and rapes people on a nearly daily basis, but they are still bad cops, even if through no fault of their own.

    Hell, even I must admit, if I was a "good" cop, I would fear for my life and the lives of my family and everyone/everything I hold dear, in fear of retaliation from the true bad cops.
    So I can't exactly blame them. But there is no pretending that these are good cops, even if they are good people.

    Cops are supposed to protect the people against criminals, which includes the bad cops. Failing to do you job, even through no fault of your own, and even for a saint of a person, is still failing at your job.

  • Re:OUTRAGEOUS cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thing 1 (178996) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @11:14PM (#35876688) Journal

    I second the ridiculousness of our politicians. I was ("recently") served notice that I had to pay my car's excise tax (yes, this is a tax you pay annually, for the luxury of keeping your car in your possession).

    "Recently" is in scare quotes, because the notice was served similarly to Arthur Dent's house destruction notice: I found it while walking through the yard after the snow had cleared, it was an envelope under a bush. I thought, "Huh, someone's trash blew in, better pick it up" and then saw my name on the front. It was addressed to me, at my address, and in the place of the stamp said "hand deliver only" and it had two scotch tape pieces diagonally across the front, as if it had been taped to my front door.

    So much is wrong with this. They could have taped it inside the storm door, and it would not have blown off. They could have paid the going rate of $0.44 and it would have gotten to me without going through my bushes and the winter; instead they likely paid someone $8 to deliver this piece of extortion.

    The saving grace is that the bill is due in the future, so they weren't able to rake me over the coals in e.g. February for not getting the notice that they "hand-delivered" in December. Fucking morons.

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