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Michigan State Police able to access information stored on your phone

Posted: , by Alex I.

Michigan State Police able to access information stored on your phone
A lot of people use their cell phones as portable computers, which ensures they store plenty of sensitive information on their devices. With the rise of the smartphones this trend is accelerating, which can potentially lead to situations where the personal information stored on your phone is compromised. Here's yet another instance how this can be done through legal means by police officers.

It's officially confirmed that Michigan State Police is using the so-called "cellphone extraction devices" that allow its officers to access data stored on your phone. It's stated that these devices can be used to gather information when a driver is pulled over and questioned by the authorities.

Most interestingly of all, these devices can obtain information that has been deleted from your cell phone, which is to say police officers are able to access data on your phone that's not available to you.

It's unknown when MSP started using these intelligence gathering gadgets, but it's a confirmed fact that the Michigan cops possessed them by 2008.

The issue was raised by the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. One of its attorneys, Mark Fancher, pointed out the potential dangers of such practices:

"There is great potential for abuse here by a police officer or a state trooper who may not be monitored or supervised on the street."

He also underlined that people may be unaware that their potentially sensitive information can be accessed by regular police officers:

"It can contain information that many people consider to be private, to be beyond the reach of law enforcement and other government actors."

ACLU also stated that these "forensic extraction devices" could be in violation of the rights granted by the Fourth Amendment. A statement issued by MPS reads:

"The State Police will provide information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act ... there may be a processing fee to search for, retrieve, examine and separate exempt material ..."

Reportedly, MSP priced the access to five such devices at $500 000, which was met with dismay by Mark Fencher:

"This should be something that they are handing over freely, and that they should be more than happy to share with the public -- the routines and the guidelines that they follow."

We don't know about you, but this and similar news leave us a bit unsettled - not that we may be victims of such practices (although you can never be sure), but the very thought that average cops have such authority is not a pleasant one.

source: Click on Detroit, more (video report) via Gizmodo

13 Comments
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posted on 19 Apr 2011, 09:53 6

1. snowgator (Posts: 3197; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


I am a true conservative. I believe in allowing those in Law Enforcement the tools to do their job. When they are prevented from any common sense thing that some groups work day and night to prevent them from doing, we are left with the "how could they have let this happen" cries from those victims of the crimes that are completely preventable.

Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way, why would any street cop need to access a personal device for??? Come on. If they arrest someone for a crime, they need warrents to search a home or confiscate a computer, why would acces to a mobile device be different?? I understand the right to search a vehicle during a traffic stop for reasons such as a drug or weapon search, but the information on cell phones, lap tops, or other electronic gear should require a higher sense of protection. This is a clear step past the "normal" boundries of Law Enforcement.

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 10:00 1

2. CheddarMan (unregistered)


America, you made this mess now have fun dealing with it.

This is what happens when you give your government absolute power because you are afraid of your own shadow.

I know as a non-American I won't be traveling accross the michigan border until these laws are changed. This is an invasion of privacy.

And another thing, since when have average police officers proven they are responsible and trust worthy enough to have such sensitive information. What happens when peoples credit card info starts getting stored on these phones. There's going to be some serious problems for the police.

They are hacking, in ways others an average citizen would be locked up for like 20 years for doing.

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 10:53 2

5. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


Well let's not blame all of America on this one. States have rights and laws that are separate from the United States as a whole. What's going on in Arizona and immigration has nothing to do with me in Ohio. But that being said, I agree with all of you that this isn't good at all. What happens if these devices fall into the wrong hands, which I'm sure will happen eventually...

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 11:23

6. snowgator (Posts: 3197; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


I am interested where you live, cheddarman.

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 14:58

11. theo14461 (Posts: 157; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


Well, being the non-American as you've stated, you should have nothing to be worried about what goes on in Michigan, or any other state. The way I see this; A) Don't carry information that you wouldn't want anybody else reading. B) If you are a criminal, police should be able to use certain means to bust your ass.

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 17:40 2

12. jbash (Posts: 339; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


totally disagree. Personal is personal period! No if ands or buts about it. We are in America and we have certain rights that shouldn't be infringed upon. You have a warrant, then by all means you can go into a personal electronic device, until then hell no.

sn Michigan sux go Buckeyes!!!! O-H!

posted on 20 Apr 2011, 09:35

15. Cheddarman (unregistered)


I am Canadian to the poster whom asked.

As for the "don't hold sensitive data on your device" I consider all my information sensitive. As other posters have said if they have a warrant then by all means, but they do not. They are infringing on rights, not just American rights but rights that are there in pretty much every free country.

This whole stance "we are entitled to everything on your computer phone and email accounts" the American government is taking is a little disgusting. They don't run the internet.

But the people inside America are more dedicated to fighting over party lines and ridiculous non-issues then to see what their government is still doing. It doesn't matter if it's the state or federal lever, the fact remains the government is taking away your privacy and has been since 2001 in the guise of fear and terror.

Smarten up America, the world's not out to get you. You are out to get you. The whole "ease up on all American's" thing is also not gonna happen, you guys have a constitution that clearly states if the government over reaches in it's pursuit of power you are supposed to stop it.... but it's never happened, a lot of American's sure like to claim their right o bear arm's and shoot each other for trespassing but what about the governments trespassing on your rights that has been happening since George Bush was in power.

If you are wondering why I care so much, well it's simple really. My government in this country follows everything America does, case in point DMCA laws that American courts are throwing out cases left and right and the Canadian government is just now endorsing these laws. My government uses American politics to see what they can get away with. If the American government can pull the wool over 330 million peoples eyes 30 million must be a synch right?

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 10:02 7

3. BeachGal (Posts: 1; Member since: 19 Apr 2011)


No warrant by a judge = no search!!

I THOUGHT this was protected by the constitution.....

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 12:23 1

7. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


People versus Gregory Diaz
The majority opinion, written by Justice Ming Chin, cited precedents from the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the contents of a cell phone are like the contents of clothing or a cigarette pack found on a suspect's person. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that those types of searches do not require a warrant under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 13:02

8. snowgator (Posts: 3197; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


This is true, they California Supreme Court did rule against Mr. Diaz. however there are a few specifics here:
1) Mr. Diaz had been arrested, and had the cell phone on him. It was not a routine traffic stop or simple questioning of someone walking down the street.
2) The Supreme Court ruling used as a bench mark in this case was concerning, if I read it right, a 1970's ruling about cigarette packs, long before cell phones. They also cited a ruling against a man who worked for the Police Department of California who tried to prevent data on a work-provided Blackberry from being used against him.
3) The U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled in 2007 that Police had violated a man's rights by looking through his cell phone, as well as the Ohio Supreme court in 2009.

Here is the best link I found referring to all this:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/03/BA5N1H3G12.DTL&tsp=1

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 13:29

10. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5596; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Not really. All of your Internets postings are fair game for being accessed, read and archived by Big Brother.

Sounds like RIM/BB just got another lease on life.... The entire handset can be encrypted.

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 10:47 3

4. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3849; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Yes this is very disturbing. Why on Earth does a police officer need access to my personal information, even information that I have deleted. How can the police justify having access that I can't have once my data is deleted. I mean how does this work? Sir or Miss I need to give you a no seatbelt ticket, & by the way I need to see your cell phone just to see if I can bust you for anything else. Ohh Miss you have some naked pictures on your phone so I will give you a indecent exposure ticket also. Sir I see you have a video of you smoking something not legal so you need to come to the precinct. lol I would love to hear that conversation to see how a officer of the law asks to see your personal information in your mobile device! This is so crazy, I don't see how this can go on for too much longer. Just like you need a warrant to search a home, you should need one to search a person’s mobile device! lol This is wild!

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 13:19

9. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2940; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


Basically don't have your cell phone on you when you are driving lol. This is completely pushing it when it comes down to invading privacy. You want to search my personal belongings? Get a warrant first assholes, most cops think they are above the law and can do whatever they want. Give them this and they are going to abuse it.

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