Michigan State Police Extracting Cellphone Data During Traffic Stops
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.