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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
For more information email: info@clarkstonlegal.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

Michigan State Police Extracting Cellphone Data During Traffic Stops

Since 2008, the Michigan State Police apparently have used devices in their patrol cruisers capable of extracting data from a driver's cell phone.  The troubling part is that it may be possible to tap your cell phone during a routine traffic stop.

The data extraction device, Cellbrite UFED, can pull existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including your call history, text messages, contacts, and images; even your geotags. It can also extract ringtones which can be highly incriminating in some situations. These devices can crack into more than 3000 cellphone models and easily blow-thru passwords.

All this, of course, raises some legitimate concerns under the Fourth Amendment's "search and seizure" clause.   Do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data contained in your cell phone once you take that puppy on the road?

Along these lines, the Michigan Chapter of the ACLU has filed a freedom of information act request with the MSP seeking detailed information on how the device is used.  In response, the MSP has issued their own press release asserting that they do not use the data extraction device during routine traffic stops, do not use the device without a prior search warrant, and cannot extract data from the phone without first having possession of the phone.

The MSP has also asserted that compliance with the ACLU's document request would be costly but they would be delighted to produce the records in exchange for a half million dollars to cover the costs.

Stay tuned for the law suit.  In the meantime, to protect your privacy when the lights and sirens erupt behind you on your next traffic stop, you should probably power down your phone.
Cellbrite UFED

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info@clarkstonlegal.com

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears that this device can only be used to extract information from the phone when connected by a cable to the phone. If I don't give my phone to the police, how in the world would they get this information? While no fan of the police and unreasonable search and seizure, this article is clearly inflammatory and wrong.

April 26, 2011 at 7:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This a typical facist answer to all of our civil Why not let's
be under tolal control.

April 26, 2011 at 8:27 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

In response to the ACLU's press release and FOIA request, the MSP issued a press release of its own, stating that the data extraction device is not used during routine traffic stops, that they do obtain warrants first, and that they must have possession of the phone. Here is the like to the entire press release:

http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,1607,7-123-1586_1710-254783--,00.html

Thank you Mr. Anonymous for pointing out where we may have misstepped. Getting the facts straight is crucial. While we may have been wrong in describing the mechanics of the device, our intent was not to be inflammatory. Thanks for calling us out on this...

April 28, 2011 at 7:29 AM 
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May 4, 2011 at 2:44 AM 
Blogger marv rein said...

When you TRACK 1.000's of cell phone users travels..you get many common places That drug users go.

May 4, 2011 at 1:30 PM 
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May 5, 2014 at 6:41 PM 

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