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State Police Respond To Cell Phone Extraction Accusations

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A day after news broke about the use of cell phone extraction devices by Michigan State Police, MSP and the American Civil Liberties Union continue to disagree about a Freedom of Information Act request that was initially filed three years ago.


Dated April 20, a statement from the Michigan State Police was emailed to The Oakland Press Thursday morning


“The MSP only uses the (data extraction devices) if a search warrant is obtained or if the person possessing the mobile device gives consent,” the statement reads.


“The department’s internal directive is that the (devices) only be used by MSP specialty teams on criminal cases, such as crimes against children.


“The (devices) are not being used to extract citizens’ personal information during routine traffic stops.”


The department had not been accused of wrongdoing, but has failed to cooperate with numerous freedom of information act requests, according to the ACLU.


MSP told the ACLU that the cost to fulfill one request would be more than $500,000.


“To date, the MSP has fulfilled at least one ACLU FOIA request on this issue and has several far-lower cost requests awaiting payment to begin processing,” the statement reads.


Mark P. Fancher, ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice attorney, said the requests awaiting payment do not necessarily have documents with them.


“The fees might be in the neighborhood of between 2 and $3,000,” Fancher said. “I’ve called and asked if those responses mean, in a specified time period, that there are, in fact, documents, and if we pay this fee, we’re going to receive documents. They’ve said ‘No, that’s not what that means.’ There may be documents during that period, but that fee they’re charging is for them to go and look. If there are documents, they’ll let us know if there are additional fees.


“That puts us in the position of possibly many more years of fishing for documents that may or may not exist. We ask to end this game we’ve been playing. (We want them to) tell us what they have and tell us what we need to do to get them at a reasonable price and let us look at what they have.”


MSP spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said she did not know the exact costs of the FOIA requests that are awaiting payment, but she said they definitely have documents associated with them.


“If there were not materials, they would receive a letter stating that,” Brown said. “We can’t charge them for something we’re not providing.”


The initial request that resulted in the $544,000 price tag covered five year’s worth of information, Brown said. She was unsure what time frame the most recent requests covered.


“Since 2008, the MSP has worked with the ACLU to narrow the focus, and thus reducing the cost, of its initial Freedom of Information Act request,” the statement reads.


Fancher disagrees.


“If that is cooperation, it has been extremely ineffective,” he said.


One of the ACLU’s concerns is, because incarceration rates are racially disproportionate, that Michigan residents “of color” could have their cell phones searched more frequently.


Michigan State Police said the devices are not and cannot be used surreptitiously.


The entire department, which employs nearly 1,000 troopers, owns just six of the devices, Brown said. They’re used primarily by specialty teams, like the Internet Crime Against Children task force, which focuses on child pornography, Brown said.


“I cannot stress enough that the information about this device being used during routine traffic stops is inaccurate,” Brown said.


The devices cannot extract information from cell phones “without the officer actually possessing the owner’s mobile device,” the MSP statement reads.


“The (devices) utilized by the MSP cannot obtain information from mobile devices without the mobile device owner knowing.”


The statement reads that data extraction devices are commercially available and used by mobile device vendors to transmit data between devices during upgrades.


“These devices have been adapted for law enforcement use due to the ever-increasing use of mobile communication devices by criminals to further their criminal activity and have become a powerful investigative tool used to obtain critical information from criminals,” the statement reads.


The statement also blasts the ACLU, claiming its initial press release about the devices was “untrue.”


“The implication by the ACLU that the MSP uses these devices ‘quietly to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches’ is untrue, and this divisive tactic unjustly harms police and community relations.


A Michigan State Police spokeswoman did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment Thursday.


Contact staff writer Dave Phillips at 248-745-4631 or dave.phillips@oakpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @dave_phillips1.

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For me, the argument is about not even wanting them to have the ability. Someday a group of troopers could conspire to use that information in a nefarious manner. This belongs in the hands of forensic labs not associated with the MSP

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Again Jokeland press slanted and blew up the story - it was never a routine traffic stop action.


"Michigan State Police said the devices are not and cannot be used surreptitiously.


The entire department, which employs nearly 1,000 troopers, owns just six of the devices, Brown said. They’re used primarily by specialty teams, like the Internet Crime Against Children task force, which focuses on child pornography, Brown said.


“I cannot stress enough that the information about this device being used during routine traffic stops is inaccurate,” Brown said.


The devices cannot extract information from cell phones “without the officer actually possessing the owner’s mobile device,” the MSP statement reads."


Ok, they can't scan your phone while its in your pocket or the center console of your car. They can't take your phone unless you are arrested. They don't check phones during traffic stops. Screw the Jokers - Jokeland Press and the Jokeland 3 - this was just another FUD attempt to scare people from MMMP.



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I said that in the previous post, that they have to actually have the phone to pull data. As far as only forensic labs having them, they are commercially available. You could go buy one if you wanted to. Personally, used properly I think they are a benefit. Some guy is arrested for kidnapping, I want the police to be able to search his phone for where he may have stashed the child (Yes I watch too much Law and Order).


So, used by honest LEO, I want them to have it. It just means you have to be careful not to let them take your phone away from you, and realize that nothing on it is safe. Oh, and realize, they can just go to the carrier and ask for a list of phone calls made and any text messages sent/received. Takes longer but they can get *most* of the information without this device. Only thing missing are pictures, video, stuff that is only on your phone.



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I have known two people that the police have asked for their phone when they were pulled over. One was on this forum, but I could not find the thread. The other was a friend. We thought it was strange, but now we know why. People abuse their power. It might not be official policy to check every phone, but they are checking some. If a police officer asks for you license, registration, and cell phone, people probably do not understand they are giving permission to search the phone by doing what the officer asks.

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This may not be that big of a problem soon. The USofA is or has developed a program for cell phones that will delete some files and send out a warning to others. This is for foriegn countries where "the fight" for democracy is being fought. I think it will get more use here.




U.S. develops "panic button" for democracy activists


Some day soon, when pro-democracy campaigners have their cellphones confiscated by police, they'll be able to hit the "panic button" -- a special app that will both wipe out the phone's address book and emit emergency alerts to other activists.


The panic button is one of the new technologies the U.S. State Department is promoting to equip pro-democracy activists in countries ranging from the Middle East to China with the tools to fight back against repressive governments.


"We've been trying to keep below the radar on this, because a lot of the people we are working with are operating in very sensitive environments," said Michael Posner, assistant U.S. secretary of state for human rights and labor.


The U.S. technology initiative is part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's push to expand Internet freedoms, pointing out the crucial role that on-line resources such as Twitter and Facebook have had in fueling pro-democracy movements in Iran, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere.


The United States had budgeted some $50 million since 2008 to promote new technologies for social activists, focusing both on "circumvention" technology to help them work around government-imposed firewalls and on new strategies to protect their own communications and data from government intrusion.


"We're working with a group of technology providers, giving small grants," Posner told reporters.


"We're operating like venture capitalists. We are looking for the most innovative people who are going to tailor their technology and their expertise to the particular community of people we're trying to protect."


The United States first began to publicly leverage new Internet technologies in 2009, when it asked Twitter to delay a planned upgrade that would have cut service to Iranians who were organizing mass protests over disputed elections.


Since then it has viewed new media technologies as a key part of its global strategy, facing off with China over censorship of Google results and launching its own Twitter feeds in Arabic, Farsi and Hindi.


Some U.S. lawmakers have criticized the department for not doing enough to promote the new technology, but Posner said it was building momentum as new initiatives are rolled out.


"We're now going full speed ahead to get the money out the door," he said.




Posner said the United States has helped fund development of about a dozen new circumvention technologies now being rolled out, and that more would follow as activists play an increasingly complex game of cat-and-mouse with censors.


He said that the experience of pro-democracy protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square in February underscored the centrality of cellphones to modern grassroots political movements. The United States, he said, was working on new devices like the "panic button" and secure text message services to protect both data and databases.


"The world is full of ... governments and other authorities who are capable of breaking into that system," Posner said. "A lot of activists don't know what their options are. They don't have access to technology."


The United States has funded training for some 5,000 activists around the world on the new technologies -- and some sessions have turned up unnerving surprises.


At a recent training session in Beirut, experts examined the computer of a Tunisian activist and discovered it was infected with "key-logging" software that could communicate what he was typing -- presumably to security agents.


"They started to go around and look at what was on the other peoples' computers. A guy from Syria had 100 viruses in his machine ... this is the tip of the iceberg," he said.


Posner conceded that the U.S. move to develop these new technologies carried some risks.


Secure on-line tools useful for underground pro-democracy activists might also be useful for drug cartels or terrorist cells, raising new law enforcement and national security issues that need to be resolved, he said.


"The fact is al Qaeda probably has their own way of gathering some of these technologies," Posner said. "The goal here is to protect people who are, in a peaceful manner, working for human rights and working to have a more open debate."


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The post where the person's had their phones seized, I believe were being detained prior to a raid on their house. The phones were confiscated so they could not phone home and warn of the impending raid.


I myself - I had pictures of my grow room on my phone - to show. Imagine border patrol or LEO seeing that! So now, I don't do that. I can't tell you how many people show me pics on their phones! Stop that!



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