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