ACLU: Michigan Police Stealing Cell Phone Info

Saturday, 23 Apr 2011 01:29 PM

By Martin Gould

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Michigan state police have been stealing information from cell phones during routine traffic stops, a complaint alleges. Officers can even tell where a person has been, with information they can grab from location devices, according to Popular Mechanics.

Email, call logs, photos, contacts and posts on Facebook and Twitter Michigan State Police, Cell Phones, Data, ACLUcan also be grabbed, according to an April 13 letter from the ACLU to the state police. Such action would violate the Fourth Amendment, the group says.

The Michigan State Police force has several forensic cell phone analyzers, including a handheld forensic system called the Cellubrite UFED that can bypass passwords to seize just about any data, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU claims it has been stymied in its attempts to find out whether the police in the Wolverine State have been abusing the system. It says it requested logs from the troopers’ devices in 2008 under the Freedom of Information Act, but the police told the group that it would have to pay an “outrageous” $544,680 for the retrieval.

“As with any FOIA request under statute, there may be a processing fee to search for, retrieve, review, examine and separate exempt materials, if any," state police spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.

But ACLU attorney Mark Fancher counters: "Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide. No less should be expected of law enforcement."

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