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    • CommentAuthoracacian
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2011

    “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."
  1.  (9777.2)
    note to self: it is not wise to plan the revolution, list the murders or document reoccuring sexual deviancies on my iphone
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2011
    In a height of irony, the US State Department is now designing a "panic button" for cellphones of dissidents in the middle east. With one press, the button sends a predetermined message out to all contacts and then wipes the phone. If you used such a panic button on approach of a Michigan cop, of course, it would be at the very least a misdemeanor convictable independent of there being any other conviction for the "crime" you were destroying evidence from. Possibly a federal felony along the lines of RICO or conspiracy charges.

    Back in 90s/00s hack culture there was always talk of panic buttons to wipe computers in the event of a raid. Seems to have carried onto every television show involving computer hackers or whatnot. As far as I know those panic macros lasted a few months and then died out; it was too easy to hit them inadvertently and wipe your system on accident. A few of the more paranoid folk continued on with them I guess, but I think we'll see the same issue with the State Department "panic phones." Not to mention how likely it is that there will undoubtedly be relay software embedded in there to track nearly everything "our friends" do.

    Given the deeper and deeper people are getting into their handhelds, rooting them or entirely hollowing them out to replace the OS, I wouldn't be surprised to see handhelds with shadow operating systems. Add to that the fact that things like Google location-based services can be fed entirely false information. Only answer is to keep evolving with the tech, up our personal and collective data intelligence so we can at least discern what data gets stored, what gets shipped, and what's vulnerable to searches.

    Also keep in mind that the claims reported above seem to be from the company itself. Whether it works that well in practice may be another story. I spend eight hours a day surrounded by law enforcement and policing tech and it tends to have about 40% of the functionality promised at best.
  2.  (9777.4)
    @Ata. Rather than Irony, I see straightforward double standards, and frankly, find it rather disgusting. I'd also happily wager that this datamining technology will see its way to those nations that the State Department purportedly wishes to equip with panic buttons.
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2011
    Not sure how this is legal, wireless calls are broadcast so it's "legal" to intercept them. Connecting with bluetooth or other wireless means and downloading data seems to me like the same as walking in my house and looking through my dresser. Doesn't seem right, you have the right to refuse a search with out a warrant, you should have the same rights on your phone.

    Or you could just turn your phone off.
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2011
    As far as I understand it, there is a case that can be made for intercepting wireless transmissions as legal, but actually looking at that data would still be illegal. Actual laws vary, though, and I'm not really up on the American ones.

    Making an active connection and obtaining data that is not being transmitted seems like the sort of thing that a warrant would be required for.
  3.  (9777.7)
    If you re-read the article, it has been updated.

    Michigan police refute claims of data-collection wrongdoing

    "The MSP only uses the DEDs if a search warrant is obtained or if the person possessing the mobile device gives consent," it said in a statement. "The DEDs are not being used to extract citizens' personal information during routine traffic stops.

    As for secret collection of data, the police said, "The MSP does not possess DEDs that can extract data without the officer actually possessing the owner's mobile device. The DEDs utilized by the MSP cannot obtain information from mobile devices without the mobile-device owner knowing."

    The DED is not wireless, it must be connected to the phone via an adapter cable. The officer cannot pull you over and extract the information from your car as he sits parked behind you. They must either ask for consent or have a warrant to download the information.

    Also according to the article there are only 5 DED's in the state, and one of the comment posters claimed to be a police officer who suggested that the DED's are far too expensive to be used by traffic and patrol officers, and would not be used in random traffic stops. A scenario was given about two burglary suspects that were caught, and information downloaded from their cell phones was able to connect them to several burglaries, and led to convictions.

    Unfortunately, the ability to perform this amount of search will lead to illegal searches regardless of the current status of the law. I would recommend refusing the search without a warrant, and contacting attorneys at the nearest opportunity, if confronted with this situation.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeApr 22nd 2011
    Consent to search is at best a tenuous prospect these days. It tends to be "If you don't consent, we'll tow your car, and we can search incident to tow anyway, so you may as well consent" or something along those lines. Search incident to custodial seizure (in the case of towing the vehicle away) has been upheld by the courts as long as the involved police department has a written policy in place. So consent is pretty vestigial.
  4.  (9777.9)
    But it's not towing your car. It's taking your phone. Which they can't do without a warrant. Which means you have the ability to call a lawyer.

    But again, this is predisposing that you're actually getting picked to have this thing used. There are five of them in the state of Michigan, and traffic & patrol cops don't get to have them. It's a tool to be used when deemed necessary. Not, "oh hey, I pulled over a car and it smells like weed, let's check their phones too, break out the DED."

    Yes it has room to be abused, like any tool. But odds are, you'll never encounter the damn thing anyway. I know of many useful tools for law enforcement that make cops jobs easier, but right now, many cops are fighting to keep their pay & insurance & benefits & even their jobs, and there's very little room in the budget for fancy toys that anyone's ready to approve just yet. So we can get all worked up about big brother if we want to, but I doubt we'll ever have this tool used on us any time in the near future.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2011
    Money for this wouldn't come out of a department's operating budget, it would come from federal grants, of which there are a shitload for things like this. Tools "to be used when deemed necessary" often have their scope widened much more quickly than the application of rights regarding them. Case law follows expanded use, not the other way around, so things like this require continued scrutiny. Warrantless data search and seizure by border agents is a prime example.
  5.  (9777.11)
    Except for the fact that these budgets are being slashed left and right. I think this sounds more like chicken little proselytizing more than anything else. This is not a serious threat, in my personal opinion, for the average person, commuting back and forth to work, etc. I do agree, there is a potential for abuse, like everything from a ticket book to a tazer, but it simply seems so minuscule that it doesn't warrant this level of attention or fear.

    Put it this way, there is money for lots of amazing tools out there, like pepper spray, special batons, and stab resistant vests for guards like me, but the Feds refuse to pass it on down because of budget issues in other more serious areas, and fears the tools would be misused, plus the funding needed for training in how to use these tools, the cost of replacing them, etc. It's not as easy as you think to get those grants or those tools.

    This issue seems to me to be far more overblown than it deserves. Look, if I thought shitloads of patrol officers were driving around with the ability to wirelessly search my cellphone without my knowledge, or without me committing any other crimes, I'd be pretty pissed off right now. And that's the way this story seemed to be presented in the beginning. That's totally not the case. Yes, again, this tool seems pretty powerful, and deserves severe restrictions in its use, but it's not nearly as bad as it originally appeared.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2011
    I think you might be confusing my arguments for someone else's, considering i'm not sure I went half that far. So I'm going to withdraw at this point. Doesn't seem much reason to restate what I said over and over again.
  6.  (9777.13)
    Atavistian@ I apologize if my wording came off combative or in anyway offensive. Some of my references were less to your response and more to the original wording of the articles, (as in the wireless searching, etc) because I'm not really clear where the fear of this tool is coming from. And if I repeated myself, it was unintentional and I do apologize.
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2011 edited
    How much of this stuff has already been proven in courts anywhere to consist of illegal search or self-incrimination?

    Location data surely has been tested by now. But where things might get slippery is if such a tool not so much by police, but by employers on a work-provided cellphone. Typically company provided assets have been held in the U.S. to have little right to privacy, and employee data has been allowed to be able to be monitored by employers with stuff like keystroke loggers.

    That gets a bit less clear with regards to location data. But is, say, a company car that has GPS logging to be held to the same standard as a cellphone? A clear and consistent framework for establishing rights around mapping and location data would probably help; I imagine right now there's mostly a pile of messy precedents.
  7.  (9777.15)
    @ Finagle I read an article recently about that, if this isn't it, it's damn close.

    Court Strikes Down GPS Tracking Without Warrant

    The judge hearing a case regarding this idea in NY said some interesting things:
    One need only consider what the police may learn, practically effortlessly, from planting a single device. The whole of a person’s progress through the world, into both public and private spatial spheres, can be charted and recorded over lengthy periods possibly limited only by the need to change the transmitting unit’s batteries. Disclosed in the data retrieved from the transmitting unit, nearly instantaneously with the press of a button on the highly portable receiving unit, will be trips the indisputably private nature of which takes little imagination to conjure: trips to the psychiatrist, the plastic surgeon, the abortion clinic, the AIDS treatment center, the strip club, the criminal defense attorney, the by-the-hour motel, the union meeting, the mosque, synagogue or church, the gay bar and on and on. What the technology yields and records with breathtaking quality and quantity, is a highly detailed profile, not simply of where we go, but by easy inference, of our associations — political, religious, amicable and amorous, to name only a few — and of the pattern of our professional and avocational pursuits. When multiple GPS devices are utilized, even more precisely resolved inferences about our activities are possible. And, with GPS becoming an increasingly routine feature in cars and cell phones, it will be possible to tell from the technology with ever increasing precision who we are and are not with, when we are and are not with them, and what we do and do not carry on our persons — to mention just a few of the highly feasible empirical configurations.

    But last I heard, this has not been decided on a Federal level, and this may be looked on by the Supreme Court eventually. Now, what is legal for law enforcement to do, and what a company policy allows a person to do when using company property/vehicles are not necessarily the same thing. Private companies can enforce restrictions due to you signing and agreeing to company policy that otherwise would not be permitted by police. Such as a lack of personal property rights and privacy in the workplace, etc.

    ETA: Then again, I could be wrong. Just found this article from my old training center:

    Tracking the Bad Guys: An Article on GPS Tracking

    This is a .pdf that explains how law enforcement are to get around 4th amendment laws until the Supreme Court makes a clear cut case on GPS tracking on the Federal level. That's actually kind of scary. I guess if you don't want them to track you, you have to never leave your unattended vehicle in a public place.