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Police in Michigan, Wisconsin, and California can rummage through your cell phone data without a warrant (in Wisc. they technically need to prove "exigency", typically a triviality). In Mich. and Calif. citizens who refuse to allow the police to take their personal data can be arrested for obstructing an investigation.  (Source: Matt York, Associated Press)

Michigan State troopers are using a device that seizes all data from smart phones. They're regularly performing the scrapes during routine traffic stops. There's no public oversight of what happens to that data.  (Source: Cellebrite)

The question of whether state Supreme Courts can kill citizens' Constitutional freedoms is a one that will likely stir much debate and conflict. Ultimately, those wishing to push the nation towards a police state may find the Founding Fathers' ideas hard to kill, though.  (Source: Alan Moore/David Lloyd)
Cops in Mich., Wisc., and Calif. can inspect ANYTHING on your cell phone -- pictures, call history, and more

Whether it's real life historical regimes -- like Tojo's Imperial Rule Japan or Italian Nationalists -- or those in fictional works -- like George Orwell's Animal Farm or Alan Moore's V is For Vendetta -- the topic of a fascist police state is one that has simultaneously fascinated and frightened many.

In the United States, over the last decade police have enjoyed a growing set of warrantless powers in the name of justice.  In the last year, these powers expanded yet again, when police in California, Wisconsin, and Michigan began searching and seizing citizens’ cell phones -- without warrants. 

I. Police Seize Citizens' Smartphones

In January 2011, California's Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that police could conduct warrantless inspections of suspects' cell phones.  According to the majority decision, when a person is taken into police custody, they lose privacy rights to anything they're carrying on them.

The ruling describes, "this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find."

In a dissenting ruling, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar stated, "[The ruling allows police] to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee's person."

But California was not alone.  Michigan State Police officers have been using a device called Cellebrite UFED Physical Pro for the last couple years.  The device scrapes off everything stored on the phone -- GPS geotag data, media (pictures, videos, music, etc.), text messages, emails, call history, and more.

Michigan State Police have been reportedly regularly been scraping the phones of people they pull over.

In neighboring Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court has ruled that while such searches are generally illegal, their evidence can become admissible in court if the police demonstrate an exigency (a press need) for the information.

Essentially this ruling offers support for such searches as it indicates that they can give solid evidence and ostensibly offers no repercussions to law enforcement officials conducting the officially "illegal" procedure.

So far the only state to have a high profile ruling against the practice was Ohio.  The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that warrantless smart phone searching violated suspects' rights.  The requested the U.S. Supreme Court review the issue, but the request was denied.

II. What Does the Constitution Say?

The United States Constitution ostensibly is the most important government document in the U.S.  It guarantees essential rights to the citizens of the U.S.

Some of those rights are specified in the Fourth Amendment, part of the original Bill of Rights.  It states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

The Constitution explicitly states that effects of a person cannot be unreasonably seized without a warrant.  

Of course courts must play the vital role of defining what a "reasonable" search is.  But by extending the limits of searches to deem nearly all searches "reasonable", no matter how tenuous the connection to a suspect's detainment, this and several other decisions have created an erosion of the protections in the amendment.

Essentially what court rulings in California, Michigan, and Wisconsin indicate is that the courts believe the Constitution is no longer valid, or that certain Constitutional freedoms can be specially selected for elimination.

III. Benefits and Dangers

Some police officers and politicians argue that there are obvious benefits of warrantless searches, including of cell phone data. Officers claim they can obtain evidence that could be destroyed, concealed, or otherwise go undiscovered if they had to go through the standard process of obtaining a warrant.

These groups argue, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about."

However, serious issues over the practice also seem apparent.  For example, police appear to be taking digital copies of the data on users' cell phones, in addition to the applicable evidence.  There is virtually no oversight or transparency into how this data is stored or managed. 

In short, citizens face a tremendous violation of privacy.  They have little recourse to take action against officers that abuse the obtained information for business or personal purposes, as there's few laws explicitly applicable such an issue.

The allowance also opens a gaping door to condoning police harassment of citizens.  It would be pretty easy for police to "detain" a targeted individual on questionable charges and seize their phone. 

IV. ACLU Fights Back

In Michigan and California, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is challenging these warrantless searches.

Particularly in Michigan, the case is becoming contentious as the state is refusing to give the ACLU information on the data it has obtained from users' cell phones.  The state has told the ACLU that it must pony up $544,680 USD to process the records, if it wants them.

The ACLU is outraged at that exorbitant demand.  Mark P. Francher, a Michigan staff attorney with the ACLU's Racial Justice Project, states, "Through these many requests for information we have tried to establish whether these devices are being used legally. It’s telling that Michigan State Police would rather play this stalling game than respect the public’s right to know."

V.  The Big Picture

Ben Franklin, in his notes to the Pennsylvania Assembly famously wrote, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Warrantless searches -- a critical component of any fascist police state -- were clearly deemed illegal by the founding fathers.

When combined with recent allowances of warrantless wiretapspolice arrests of people who photograph them, warrantless invasion of property, and warrantless tracking of citizens the resulting picture is somewhat alarming.

The police in the U.S. are being increasingly exempted from following due process and given freedom to follow their commanders' dictates -- whatever they may be.  Meanwhile the rights and freedoms of citizens is eroding at an equally rapid pace.

Some of these issues may end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, but the country as a whole needs to consider and address them, as well, in the meantime.

Update 1: April 21, 2011 6:55 p.m. -

The Michigan State Police have shared with us the following statement:

Recent news coverage prompted by a press release issued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has brought speculation and caused inaccurate information to be reported about data extraction devices (DEDs) owned by the Michigan State Police (MSP).

To be clear, there have not been any allegations of wrongdoing by the MSP in the use of DEDs.

The MSP only uses the DEDs if a search warrant is obtained or if the person possessing the mobile device gives consent. The department*s internal directive is that the DEDs only be used by MSP specialty teams on criminal cases, such as crimes against children.

The DEDs are not being used to extract citizens' personal information during routine traffic stops.

The MSP does not possess DEDs that can extract data without the officer actually possessing the owner's mobile device. The DEDs utilized by the MSP cannot obtain information from mobile devices without the mobile device owner knowing.

Data extraction devices are commercially available and are routinely utilized by mobile communication device vendors nationwide to transmit data from one device to another when customers upgrade their mobile devices.

These DEDs 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.

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 (FOIA) request. 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 MSP provides information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. As with any request, there may be a processing fee to search for, retrieve, review, examine, and separate exempt material, if any.

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.

Note, as the ACLU and this article state, the police have to ask a citizen to get their phone during an investigation.

The police department's accounting that the device is not used during traffic stops conflicts with local reports and local testimony.  It is unclear whether this is due to confusion in the department, officers breaking with protocol, or problems with eyewitness credibility.

The statement does not state whether or not charges of obstruction of justice can be filed against citizens refusing to part with their mobile devices.

It also makes it clear that the full body of the collected information has not been released, as the ACLU has accounted.

We will make more information available as we receive it.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Drag0nFire on 4/21/2011 2:34:09 PM , Rating: 5
Thinking ahead here. Would an encrypted smart phone be susceptible to these devices? I work in the medical field where a smart phone can contain all sorts of protected health information, dissemination of which is a violation of patient's rights. Would this information be subject to seizure by the police if I was pulled over for a traffic violation?

This disgusts me...

RE: so...
By koenshaku on 4/21/2011 2:46:03 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah I have to reconsider security and what I keep on my phone this is insane. I carry a filthy phone that assume the little three incorrect passcodes would wipe it never thinking about such a device as this. This country is going to the pits.

RE: so...
By vol7ron on 4/21/2011 9:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
Would this information be subject to seizure by the police if I was pulled over for a traffic violation?

The article says if you're detained. You're not detained if you're pulled over for a traffic stop.

Yeah I have to reconsider security and what I keep on my phone this is insane.
The day I found someone's iPhone, I started thinking about how easy it is to lose mine, or for someone to steal it. I instantly put on the password-lock (not passcode) and turned on the wipe on 10 failed attempts. Granted, this wouldn't be as nice if I could encrypt the drive, but it's a start to prevent prying morons from acquiring my life.

RE: so...
By Adonlude on 4/22/2011 11:38:37 AM , Rating: 5
Any time an officer stops you and you are not in a situation where you are "free to leave" you are detained. I suggest you start reading more about your rights... then buy guns.

RE: so...
By Mr772 on 4/22/2011 6:19:40 PM , Rating: 3
"An armed man is a citizen and unarmed man is a subject." ~anon

RE: so...
By mostyle on 4/26/2011 7:49:11 AM , Rating: 2
Beautiful, sir, beautiful.

RE: so...
By KeithP on 4/21/2011 2:52:46 PM , Rating: 4
You know what disgusts me? Someone carrying around my medical records, unencrypted, on a device that is easily lost or stolen. Isn't that HIPAA violation??

RE: so...
By Drag0nFire on 4/21/2011 3:00:48 PM , Rating: 1
I agree with you completely. That's why I asked whether the police device would be able to break the encryption. Alternately, I could have asked whether I would be required to break the encryption for the police officers.

Please read what I wrote before you comment.

RE: so...
By The Raven on 4/21/2011 7:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
The police device is irrelevant to his point. If the device is left back at the Gourmet Haus Staudt...bam! That stuff is out there waiting to get hacked (that is if the thing is even locked to begin with at the time of interception).

Just like if I carried your medical records around in a briefcase. Of course the brief case is easily busted open regardless of the locking mechanism. But on the other hand, I am assuming there is A LOT more than a briefcase worth of documents on the phone.

Wouldn't your question be, "What the heck is he doing with my records in his briefcase?"

Its not the perfect comparison but you get my point right?
If you want to carry the thing around the hospital that is one thing. But take it outside and that is unacceptable IMO.

RE: so...
By mdogs444 on 4/21/2011 9:56:33 PM , Rating: 2
If you want to carry the thing around the hospital that is one thing. But take it outside and that is unacceptable IMO.

Unfortunately that's not very realistic. I work in IT for a hospital and there are many reasons that people use laptops and other mobile devices for work and take them home from work. For example, all IT staff have laptops that we use at work and also take them home every night. Why? Well, for a few reason - we are always on call (whether we like it or not), we can work from home, and because leaving laptops around the remote offices that are cleaned by outsourced companies (environmental services of the hospital only clean the main hospital - we have 30+ off site buildings and clinics). There are many reasons for each department, but I'm sure you can figure that part out.

However, we do not allow any patient data to be stored on laptops or mobile devices....well, on 99% of them anyway. There is always a small 1% of exceptions where it is possible. For example you need to be able to during a network outage, power outage, and certain vendors require that you only use their hardware and no network storage (typically smaller vendors that don't have a large support staff). We put as many programs as possible on the network through means such as Citrix, App-V, thin clients, virtual desktops, etc. In cases where the software must be locally installed, then we can resort to running the databases on SQL or Oracle servers which run at the data center as opposed to the local machine.

In todays world, the amount of patient data residing on any mobile device is next to nothing - at my facility anyway. Typically, when there is data there, it happens by accident or by people who are not computer savvy.

Also, we have our USB ports disabled by devices, so external hard drives and USB memory sticks are not recognized by the OS and users do not have the ability to install drivers to support them. We don't even allow android phones, iphones, or ipods to be connected and synced to any machine on our domain.

RE: so...
By The Raven on 4/22/2011 11:01:50 AM , Rating: 2
So you're saying that Drag0nFire is spreading false information. Whew! That is reassuring. I'm not of the medical profession so I got to trust you on this lol.

The way you describe it, sounds resonably secure. Drag0nFire makes it sound like the next big wikileak in the making.

I could see the headline now: "Wikileaks reveal Obama has 2 months to live yet decides to run for reelection. Biden suddenly important."

RE: so...
By mdogs444 on 4/21/2011 9:34:45 PM , Rating: 2
Someone carrying around my medical records, unencrypted, on a device that is easily lost or stolen. Isn't that HIPAA violation??

No, its not a violation, unless your information is actually compromised. Obviously you've never worked in a hospital in an urban area. It's not just laptops and mobile devices that are at risk - there are people who run into clinics or the ER's and try to grab full sized desktop machines and run out the door. I would be more worried about those because many facilities still store patient data locally on hard drives because some vendors require you to run the system the way they give it to you or they will not support it - for example they will not support the system if the data lies on a NAS owned by the hospital and not the hard drive supplied by the vendor.

I work in the IT department as an analyst for a major hospital doing work in a field that goes hand in hand with what you're talking about.

We do several different things to prevent this from happening. For starters, every employee and vendor must have their own individual domain login account with passwords that must meet certain criteria and are forced to change every 90 days. All laptops are fully encrypted so that if they are stolen, they are pretty much rendered useless. Often times, they end up at a neighborhood pawn shop with a new hard drive and windows image on them or dumpster because the existing drive is useless.

Next, we do not allow any databases or patient information to be stored locally on laptops unless absolutely necessary - for example vendor software that is only sold running on their own supplied hardware and they will not support network storage as an option. All users have NAS shares that replace the local My Documents folders and the C: drives are locked down except for people with admin access - such as IT staff.

In as many cases as possible any software that needs to be accesses remotely from outside of the hospital is typically put on a virtual desktop, app-v, or citrix based solution so that the data is never stored locally. We are also starting to roll out thin clients as well. Keep in mind, you must also have a login and token to even get VPN access.

We currently are not supporting tablets like android or ipads, nor as we allowing android phones to sync with outlook calendars (and many other things like this) because of the security risks and ability for patient information to compromised.

I could go on forever with this stuff, but I assume you're catching my drift. Now, I cannot say that all places are as security and ahead of the curve like we are - most likely smaller doctors offices and the like are not. But in those things I mentioned above, we go well above and beyond what HIPPA standards are. And to make matters worse - HIPPA is so vague, that there really are no industry "standards" per say when it comes to many things that are available today like security, virtualization, encryption, etc.

RE: so...
By phantom505 on 4/21/2011 11:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it is against HITECH, which is basically a supplement to HIPAA. Generally speaking most systems I've seen are server based and nothing is stored on the satellite device. It's really not that common anyhow.

RE: so...
By JasonMick on 4/21/2011 3:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
Thinking ahead here. Would an encrypted smart phone be susceptible to these devices? I work in the medical field where a smart phone can contain all sorts of protected health information, dissemination of which is a violation of patient's rights. Would this information be subject to seizure by the police if I was pulled over for a traffic violation?

This disgusts me...

Depending on the kind of encryption you use, the answer is probably yes.

Of course if this kind of action is tolerated/promoted you could be arrested for obstructing justice by refusing to give officers your encryption keys.

RE: so...
By ClownPuncher on 4/21/2011 3:28:11 PM , Rating: 5
That's where a lawyer comes into play. Warrantless search and siezure is against Federal Law. Sue these states into bankruptcy, they deserve to be kicked out on the Union.

RE: so...
By SilthDraeth on 4/21/2011 4:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
They are bankrupt already...

Not that I disagree with you.

RE: so...
By drycrust3 on 4/22/2011 3:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
they deserve to be kicked out on the Union.

... but wasn't that what the American Civil War was about?

RE: so...
By Integral9 on 4/21/2011 4:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
the problem with that is they are already bankrupt; they got nothing to loose...

RE: so...
By Integral9 on 4/21/2011 4:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
i hate my proxy...

RE: so...
By ClownPuncher on 4/21/2011 5:07:17 PM , Rating: 2
If we sold those states to Mexico, I'm sure they would feel worse off.

RE: so...
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2011 9:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
Mexico already owns the southern half of California.

RE: so...
By mdogs444 on 4/21/2011 10:00:21 PM , Rating: 4
Correction: Mexico doesn't want to own it because they don't want to own the debt. They just want Americans to own it and pay the entitlements for Mexicans.

RE: so...
By sgw2n5 on 4/22/11, Rating: 0
RE: so...
By mdogs444 on 4/22/2011 9:05:00 AM , Rating: 2

Lets see. I paid about $10,000 last year in federal income taxes. I didnt get any welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing assistance, medicaid, in-state tuition pricing for not being a citizen, or emergency department bills paid for by the taxpayer.

I pay FICA, SS, Medicare, state income tax, and local income tax.

So please, enlighten me as to these entitlements that I'm getting which are far greater than those "brown people" who don't pay into the pot....

RE: so...
By Jeffk464 on 4/22/2011 10:34:57 AM , Rating: 2
Indead, its mostly a factor of circumstance. They, on average, come to California with no education and poor english ability so they end up in low paying jobs. They have large families, so even discounting entitlements, it costs way more to educate their kids and pay for their medical costs, and high incarceration rates than what they put into the system in taxes. Sorry its a fact, the rest of California subsidizes the "cheap labor." Of coarse by say the 3rd generation they are more mainstream, its not really an issue of "brown people"

RE: so...
By ClownPuncher on 4/22/2011 1:02:11 PM , Rating: 2
If they are getting medicaid, food stamps etc., I would assume they would be paying taxes on their income. AFAIK, most illegals have fake papers and are not paid under the table.

RE: so...
By Jeffk464 on 4/22/2011 5:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
Their kids are their foot in the door for receiving all the benefits.

RE: so...
By ClownPuncher on 4/22/2011 7:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
Catholics have a lot of kids!

RE: so...
By Skywalker123 on 4/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: so...
By HrilL on 4/21/2011 4:34:43 PM , Rating: 3
Of course if this kind of action is tolerated/promoted you could be arrested for obstructing justice by refusing to give officers your encryption keys.

This is where the 5th amendment would come in. You don't have to incriminate yourself. So they shouldn't be able to charge you with obstructing justice if you refuse to break the encryption. It is clearly within your rights to plead the 5th.

RE: so...
By sprockkets on 4/21/2011 9:43:40 PM , Rating: 1
Won't work. This has been followed on, and I remember them saying that will be contempt of court or obstruction of justice. The password in it of itself is not incriminating.

RE: so...
By SilthDraeth on 4/22/2011 11:12:42 AM , Rating: 2
The password could in incriminating if it was something like


RE: so...
By HrilL on 4/25/2011 8:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
somehow I thought the 5th gave you the right to remain silent.

Under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins suspects retain their 5th Amendment right to remain silent , however, if a suspect waives this right and interrogation begins, the right to halt further interrogation by the police must be exercised explicitly, by revoking the prior waiver of this 5th Amendment right.

Thus you have the right to refuse your password by remaining silent.

RE: so...
By gorehound on 4/21/2011 4:45:31 PM , Rating: 2
it really sucks.and what can you do against the police or how do you fight back against the government.they have sold us out and gone against our constitution.

RE: so...
By ebakke on 4/21/2011 10:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
you fight back at the voting booth. choose wisely.

RE: so...
By ShaolinSoccer on 4/22/2011 12:21:37 AM , Rating: 2
Aren't some voting booths rigged?

RE: so...
By mostyle on 4/26/2011 7:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
Booths? Politics in general are rigged.

I gave up ages ago on the ideal that my vote matters. Now, let me have several million in the bank and that issue shifts. Even then it's not my vote.. It's my wallet.

Meh, just my humble opinion..

RE: so...
By Breathless on 4/21/11, Rating: 0
RE: so...
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2011 9:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
Holly hell, I used to hate the ACLU but I tell you ever since 9-11 the government has been getting out of control with violating constitutional rights. I might have to change my mind and actually donate money to the ACLU.

RE: so...
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2011 9:43:39 PM , Rating: 2
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

I need this on Tshirts and bumper stickers.

RE: so...
By mdogs444 on 4/21/2011 10:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
Ok lets not push it. A blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while too. The ACLU does 1 thing good for every 100 crackpot things. I agree with them in this certain case...but its the other 99 that scare the hell out of me.

RE: so...
By sgw2n5 on 4/21/2011 11:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
Citation needed...

What has the ACLU done that you do not like?

RE: so...
By DerekZ06 on 4/22/2011 12:32:06 AM , Rating: 2
They do it all the time in Columbus Nebraska. I've had several friends receive obstruction when refusing to hand over their cellphones. One person had it confiscated without warrant and was charged with assaulting a police officer as well.

A friend that was at a underage drinking party was busted. Had her phone, which was a blackberry protected by a passcode, confiscated for two days. In the mean time they cracked it and used that phone to issue out several more MIPs and a procuring charge based off of texts and pictures.

Granted it didn't hold up in court but what did happen was that the people in it were noted. The procurer 2 months later was in a self defense fight but took it to far and received assault. In court he had the same judge and the judge recognizing him gave him the harsher penalty of prison time, specifically mentioning the procuring citation he was never charged with.

Messed up world huh?

RE: so...
By DerekZ06 on 4/22/2011 12:35:00 AM , Rating: 2
Additionally to the phone evidence not holding up in court, the people cited with it still had to pay lawyer fees and take time out of their day. The officers know this and frequently the lawyer costs much more than the fine ever could. Basically they are fined way more but without an official record.

RE: so...
By Jeffk464 on 4/22/2011 10:39:13 AM , Rating: 2
No, no, no,go for a public appointed attorney and then it costs the county money for the harassment. But yeah I have heard of cops writing bad tickets just to screw with you, because if you fight it its going to be a huge hassle on your part and none on theirs.

RE: so...
By DerekZ06 on 4/22/2011 12:24:21 PM , Rating: 2
They love to write bad tickets. Not to long ago a kegger was busted and we ran. They only nailed 7 people that night. The 3 that stayed in the machine shed were held at gun and tazer point by 9 cops. (And cops wonder why people think their dicks)

The cops confiscated a camera from one of the 7 that night, they took it to the local schools to identify the people on it and came up with 35 total mips delivered by mail. The 3 in the machine shed were charged with 35 counts of procuring and mip.

As of now 3 people were charged with mips and the rest had to go through hassles. The ones charged with procuring are still in court proceedings but have it obviously dropped down to 3 counts. However the schools did punish and suspend many from school activities.

RE: so...
By Wiggy Mcshades on 4/24/2011 11:47:56 AM , Rating: 2
You have to prove you can't afford one, and if you are a dependent your legal gaurdian also has to prove they cannot afford a lawyer. It's not easy to get a public defender in reality. Also the public defenders make next to nothing, so you aren't really screwing anyone but yourself trying to get one.

RE: so...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/22/2011 7:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
This disgusts me...

Yup. Gotta love all the 'hope and change' we've been seeing...

RE: so...
By mostyle on 4/26/2011 8:01:43 AM , Rating: 2
'hope and change'

Buzz words for the blind. People don't want to be forced to look at the reality of a situation rather they would have the Pied Piper(sp?) play them a tune that suits exactly the tune they are wanting to hear.

Hence where we are today.. A situation that 'We shall NOT overcome.'

What kind of cops?
By BigToque on 4/21/2011 3:40:30 PM , Rating: 4
Someone posted a question that seems to have disappeared asking what kind of cops engage in this type of thing and what police departments are looking for in new recruits.

The answer is people that can't think for themselves. People that follow orders without questioning them. Police officers are not educated. They're not smart. They don't think. They just do whatever they're told. Most of them are complete dicks on power trips. This applies to people in the military as well.

Are there good, honest, intelligent and educated people that can think outside the box in the military and on police forces? Of course, but for every good one, you're gonna find more than ten shitty ones.

RE: What kind of cops?
By Wererat on 4/21/2011 4:48:14 PM , Rating: 4
I have to disagree with a small point here; people think, but part of that decision is knowing that fighting the LEO will mean a much larger charge, court costs, potentially loss of freedom, job, and possibly more, weighed against the inconvenience and potential humiliation of the LEO leering over your phone's contents.

Also this is the age of the 'cloud' where people are encouraged to throw their personal data up into other people's servers, and of Facebook etc. where people blather the most personal details of their lives out into the ether.

A data miner hardly needs a pick any more, only a sieve.

RE: What kind of cops?
By snikt on 4/21/2011 5:34:14 PM , Rating: 2
I have to disagree with a small point here; people think, but part of that decision is knowing that fighting the LEO will mean a much larger charge, court costs, potentially loss of freedom, job, and possibly more, weighed against the inconvenience and potential humiliation of the LEO leering over your phone's contents.

I disagree with this. If you get the media and Public involved in your case this will not be as severe as you make it seem. Everybody walks a straight line when being scrutinized.

RE: What kind of cops?
By ekv on 4/21/2011 8:04:09 PM , Rating: 3
The answer is people that can't think for themselves.
Had a bad experience w/ Law Enforcement, have we? Or perhaps anarchy doesn't cramp your 'style as much.

Since your stereotyping sounds like you're in high school, may I suggest you check with your local law enforcement agencies and see if they have a "ride along" program. Many agencies use this as a recruitment tool for high school or college students. It gives young people an opportunity to see things from a LEO's perspective. Try to I) get a check ride with a patrol unit II) in a college town III) on a party night.

RE: What kind of cops?
By Lazarus Dark on 4/21/2011 9:18:58 PM , Rating: 1
I've had 20 plus years of bad experience with cops. And I don't have a rap sheet or anything, I just get harassed all the time cause of how I dress or look or what I drive in certain "nicer" neighborhoods (which is where I live and work, but apparently I don't "fit in" with the neighborhood image).
And in particular, at 16, about 14 years ago, my father beat me black and blue in an out-of-nowhere rage and when I called the cops, he lied and said I attacked him and they arrested me even though I called them, saying that my word is worthless against his.
I went to live with my mother then, but a few months later I was at the bowling alley with her for her league gaming and she was drunk off her butt and told me to get in the car and she was going to drive us home; I refused and she called the cops, who then said I had to ride with her no matter what cause she's my mother and it didn't matter if she was drunk.
Then later at about 22, I fell in love with a woman, we started going out; until a cop fell in love with her. She chose him, which I didn't care about, I wanted her to be happy, I was still friends with her, but he didn't like that so he got all his cop buddies to start stopping me every other day and giving me a ticket for ten miles over even though they would say to my face they didn't know how fast I was going. Thanks to the state's point system, I lost my license after about five of those tickets.

People keep telling me there are good cops out there, but I've never met one.

RE: What kind of cops?
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2011 9:53:31 PM , Rating: 1
Yup, most cops tend to be a-holes.

RE: What kind of cops?
By ekv on 4/21/2011 11:07:26 PM , Rating: 1
who then said I had to ride with her no matter what
I suppose next you'll be saying "it was Bush's fault."

RE: What kind of cops?
By Spuke on 4/21/2011 11:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
but he didn't like that so he got all his cop buddies to start stopping me every other day and giving me a ticket for ten miles over even though they would say to my face they didn't know how fast I was going
LOL! Holy sh!t dude! You make the Rodney King beating look like a police escort.

RE: What kind of cops?
By mostyle on 4/26/2011 8:13:57 AM , Rating: 2
Stereotyping is bad. I'll grant you that. Unfortunately they are usually based on a semblance of patterning.

As a civilian employed by law enforcement I can tell you straight-faced that I've seen both good and bad. I argue constantly with the people that I work with that we are supposed to be better than standard we expect of the people that we deal with. The thing: Cops are humans too. The human element is always going to be there badge or not. In regards to 'people can't think for themselves' that's not completely accurate.. Some cases sure.. In most however, they don't want to.

I'm at work while typing this and in the few minutes Ive been typing this I've had to send police to a grown man 'because his kid wouldn't get in the car to go to school.'

Thirty plus year old calling about a ten year old. People want an escape clause.. They don't WANT to think for themselves if they don't have to and we are fostering a society that says you don't have to rather just remember a phone number.

Misleading and one-sided
By tiberius2oo5 on 4/21/2011 4:57:57 PM , Rating: 4
This piece seems misleading and one-sided. The image of police officers is actually of police working against drug cartels in Arizona busting a human trafficking and illegal immigration ring, NOT every day patrol officers in Michigan, Wisconsin, and California making routine traffic stops, as the piece seems to imply.

It also makes no reference to the MSPs side of the story, which clearly indicates that data isn’t collected from a driver’s phone during a traffic stop, and is only collected if:
(1) an issued warrant, or
(2) the owner’s consent.

(of course, we can never trust the police, right? *rolls eyes*)

Now I’m not saying they’re absolutely telling the truth, but their side of the story should at least be mentioned for the author to at least retain some glimmer of objectivity.

This is misleading and biased. Every time I visit hoping for higher quality and fair articles, I’m sadly disappointed with the same, sorry “journalism.”

RE: Misleading and one-sided
By isayisay on 4/21/2011 5:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
For clarity (since you seem to be concerned about misleading and one-sided) .... if a LEO whose entire demeanor is based upon authority and obedience "asks" (tells) a person that they are going to look at the data on the phone, it is misleading and one-sided to think that the person with the phone has ANY idea they can truly say 'no' and that a warrant would be required to look at the phone.

Further... it is delusional to think that by sticking up for their rights that this person is not going to get a world of grief and ill will from the LEO if they try to do this.

They shouldn't be doing this without a warrant. The world is changing, the wealth of info we carry on us is changing, laws need to change.... with the focus TO PROTECT CITIZEN RIGHTS, not to protect the ability to catch the large minority of criminals.

RE: Misleading and one-sided
By ICBM on 4/21/2011 6:25:43 PM , Rating: 2
There isn't a side to this story. This is how it is. There is no question many Police are doing what they are supposed to do. But I would question and put up as much resistance as possible to ANYONE who has the power to restrict your freedom. Lets not forgot Police are trained to have you unknowingly give up your rights. Does the line, "oh it will be much easier if you let us do this."

Any group of people that try and trick you out of your rights are somebody we should be VERY cautious of. Remember it is their job to put people in jail!

RE: Misleading and one-sided
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2011 9:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone should know that is never to your advantage to cooperate with the police. As soon as the cops start talking to you, you should basically ask for a lawyer. A lawyer knows exactly what is to your advantage and what is not to your advantage. Basically, you are suppose to lie to law enforcement, but you can shut up.

RE: Misleading and one-sided
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2011 10:00:20 PM , Rating: 2

not suppose to lie

RE: Misleading and one-sided
By adiposity on 4/21/2011 6:13:32 PM , Rating: 3
(of course, we can never trust the police, right? *rolls eyes*)

We can trust the police to act like police always do: they will use any methods at their disposal to do their job.

Their job consists of several things: stopping criminal activity, enforcing municipal law, etc.

If you give cops more tools they will use them, even if they curtail civil liberties. What cop wouldn't love the ability to conduct warrantless searches? It makes their job easier.

The key is to not give them powers that we, as a populace, don't feel comfortable giving them: such as, the ability to read your e-mails and look at the nude pictures of your girlfriend that you have on your phone.

RE: Misleading and one-sided
By Jalek on 4/21/2011 9:35:25 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of misleading.. what does border activity have to do with Michigan police?

Do you counter every political corruption story with something about a politician kissing babies? I don't even understand your point, unless it's an odd twist on moral equivalency to just say that not all departments are doing this.

By kattanna on 4/21/2011 3:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
when a person is taken into police custody, they lose privacy rights to anything they're carrying on them.

i stopped reading at that point. that has always been the case. if you are arrested anything on your person is subject to search and seizure, why would a phone be any different?

By AntiM on 4/21/2011 4:25:09 PM , Rating: 4
What if you're pulled over for nothing but a traffic violation? Does that give them the right to seize data from your phone? NO it doesn't, but they seem to be doing it anyway.
Anyone that thinks this is acceptable might as well go to Arlington Cemetery and piss on all the graves of the soldiers that died fighting for our rights and freedoms.
This is a complete dishonor to the sacrifices they made.

By kattanna on 4/21/2011 4:55:30 PM , Rating: 1
What if you're pulled over for nothing but a traffic violation?

um.. 2 different things. when you are pulled over they do not have the right to search your vehicle unless circumstances warrant such action.

now if you are doing something illegal like driving under the influence, then yes when they arrest you they do have the right to go through all items on your person, just like any other arrest.

but hey.. dont let facts get in the way of a good paranoid rant, LOL

By adiposity on 4/21/2011 6:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if you hadn't stopped reading early, you would have seen that the article talks about police scraping phones after pulling people over. It doesn't state whether they were arrested but the implication seems to be that they weren't.

By bodar on 4/21/2011 7:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
That's the question that the ACLU is asking: are the Michigan police using the device for routine traffic violations? MI is refusing to be transparent.

Documents provided in response confirmed the existence of these devices, but MSP claimed that the cost of retrieving and assembling the documents that disclose how five of the devices are being used is $544,680. The ACLU was then asked to pay a $272,340 deposit before the organization could receive a single document.

In order to reduce the cost, the ACLU of Michigan narrowed the scope of its request. However, each time the ACLU submitted more narrow requests, MSP claimed that no documents exist for that time period and then it refused to reveal when the devices were used so a proper request could be made.

“We should not have to go on expensive fishing expeditions in order to discover whether police are violating the rights of residents they have resolved to protect and serve,” said Fancher.

If they have nothing to hide, then why don't they cooperate? Guess they don't like a taste of their own logic.

By icemansims on 4/21/2011 4:49:37 PM , Rating: 5
You are, and are not, correct. The fourth amendment does NOT specifically state warrants. There you are correct. HOWEVER, what has been agreed upon as the law of the land and had multiple precedents set with, is that a warrant represents a sort of "writ of reasonableness", in effect, the judicial branch of government saying that police do indeed have the right to conduct a "reasonable search or seizure". The exception is exigent circumstances (pulling from wikipedia for sake of expediency):
An emergency situation requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect, or destruction of evidence. There is no ready litmus test for determining whether such circumstances exist, and in each case the extraordinary situation must be measured by the facts known by officials.
Those circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry (or other relevant prompt action) was necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or other persons, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of a suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts.

This, however, goes beyond this. I'll get to the traffic part in a moment. In this case, because the suspect has a smart phone, the police are taking advantage of the fact that they have it on their person by accessing information that would otherwise require a search warrant to obtain. A correlation is that if you're arrested with your house keys in your pocket, the police do not automatically have the right to enter your house without a warrant.

When it comes to traffic, the police do not even have the right to demand that you open your trunk or to allow them to search your car without your permission or a warrant.

In general, this is a really dangerous situation for the American people, and something that needs to be fought VERY vigorously.

One way to counter this
By ShaolinSoccer on 4/21/2011 4:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
When you get pulled over, open your glovebox, get your registration, put your cell phone in the glovebox then lock the glovebox. They have to have a warrant to open it.

RE: One way to counter this
By delphinus100 on 4/21/2011 8:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
Carefully, though. Cops never have liked to see people reach for the glove box too suddenly...

RE: One way to counter this
By ShaolinSoccer on 4/22/2011 12:17:20 AM , Rating: 2
Ya, I know. I normally pull out my registration after being pulled over anyway. And if he asks if I have a cellphone in the car, I won't lie about it. If he asks to see it, I would say only if he has a search warrant and I would tell him how I disagree with law enforcement snatching all data from a smartphone. It's my right to disagree. No cop is going to get a search warrant for your vehicle unless he has probable cause. Like smelling drugs or alcohol. In which I don't have to worry about that since I don't do either. I would of course be polite and respectful and they always let me go without any problems. Data on a smartphone is "private property" just like your vehicle and home.

RE: One way to counter this
By Jalek on 4/21/2011 8:48:31 PM , Rating: 2
The "would you mind if I looked at.." seems to give them all the probable cause they need if you say no. It's like when saying you only want to speak to your lawyer and they continue asking and offering (false) deals if you'll talk to them. Sitting in the room for hours completely at their mercy waiting while they keep coming back in throwing ridiculous accusations and making up scenarios for you to admit to isn't at all intimidating.

repeat of History
By Uncle on 4/21/2011 3:07:13 PM , Rating: 2
Leaving the ethnic race out of this. For a nation that helped fight a war for the very reasons described above. I guess for a government, Fascism has its place, a lot easier to keep the populace under control, without the bickering that goes on in court all the time. Maybe Hitler had it right after all, because the path the Americans are taking proves Hitler right. If your a government it makes life a lot easier to silence your apposition. What I find disturbing is how the police go along with this. When the state hires new recruits what are they looking for in the evaluations that make these police prime candidates to go along with this.

RE: repeat of History
By Lerianis on 4/21/2011 5:37:55 PM , Rating: 1
The Americans in general do not want to go down this route. In fact, most Americans are disgusted by this bunk, but they have no power really because we have made it so 'bad' to use force against our government to send them a message that they have no way to express their disgust.

Voting? Not worth anything when it is so damned easy to sway things to the side of the people you are voting against and commit fraud.

RE: repeat of History
By Jeffk464 on 4/22/2011 5:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing that influences our government is money. You have to donate to causes you believe in, become the special interest that we all hate. :)

Corrupt cops
By Shadowmaster625 on 4/21/2011 4:39:58 PM , Rating: 3
It works either above or below the radar. We should be more concerned with the below the radar uses. Especially with all all the corrupt cops. You know... the ones who go into the database where all that scraped info is stored and comb through it looking for a mark... anyone or anything they can find to set up a scam or a hit. It happens all the time, and the criminals and cops alike share in an ever growing feast on the general population. God you people are so stupid who can blame them. Will you ever ever learn?

RE: Corrupt cops
By Lerianis on 4/24/2011 9:42:26 AM , Rating: 2
Good point. The fact is that every time they make something like this, some idiot cop abuses it's usage 'under the radar'. It's getting to the point where for some of these things, the police departments should be required to track them in real time where they are and how they are being used.

I wonder...
By TheRoadWarrior on 4/21/2011 4:22:13 PM , Rating: 4
If you have music/movies on your phone and the police "seize the data" from it, aren't they committing copyright infringement??? Where's the RIAA when you need them...

By DuctTapeAvenger on 4/21/2011 2:49:53 PM , Rating: 3
As a Michigan resident, F&^K the (state) police. I normally have nothing but respect for the police, but this is complete BS. I really hope this gets stopped.

Simple solution
By SlyNine on 4/21/2011 3:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
Encryption. Not that I agree with them but, if you have something important and privet keep it encrypted.

Texting and driving
By Wererat on 4/21/2011 4:40:43 PM , Rating: 2
Now: look at the political groups that formed the flashmob "ban texting and driving" coalitions to push through laws which can only be enforced by an officer searching your phone.

Do ya think any of these laws were really about public safety? Absolutely it's wrong to be looking at a little screen and typing while driving, but wouldn't "reckless driving" or any number of existing laws cover this?

Nope, we needed a new one that, in order to prove, requires that the prosecutor produce evidence that phone usage was occurring at the time of the stop.

This gets to the real purpose of these laws, which is to get government past the barrier of privacy.

I hope I don't have to be the test case (MI resident) but I'd take the obstruction of justice charge and fight it on the grounds that if the prosecutor needs phone information they can go subpeona it from the cell company, not attempt a warrantless seizure.

Windows 7 phone
By MGSsancho on 4/21/2011 6:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe the best phone to have is a win 7 phone, remove the SD card and crush it with your teeth and everything is irreverseably destroyed. On android the SD card is secondary storage and usefull data can still be extracted even if your phone wont boot with out one. Sorry iphone users. Also with win7 your media is automatically backed up online unless you change that.

If anyone has a more realistic alternative please comment.

Which brings up a good point
By JakLee on 4/21/2011 7:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
So, in the interest of safety - does anyone know and can share some good programs/apps for the latest phone OS's that will encrypt your data on your phone to avoid something like this?

I have nothing to hide, but nothing I want to share with them either....

Pictured device
By espress0 on 4/22/2011 1:48:27 AM , Rating: 2
They use that device at apple stores to transfer contact information.

Justice? Hardly. . .
By dikelley on 4/22/2011 8:31:35 AM , Rating: 2
"In the United States, over the last decade police have enjoyed a growing set of warrantless powers in the name of justice."

In the name of justice? More like in the name of law enforcement. Despite what many people believe, those two things are rarely synonymous.

By tamalero on 4/22/2011 12:50:49 PM , Rating: 2
It's scary how fast USA is moving, from the supposed "land of the free" to a paranoic anticomunist fascist state.
they're seriously moving in the same path that Spain, Italy and Germany had followed right before WWII.

"Protection" or Freedom
By ketchup79 on 4/22/2011 2:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
Our freedom is fleeting away in the name of "security" or "protection" most recently with airport security and now this. There are many good and honest police officers out there. Unfortunately I have known and heard about many who are not so good an honest. Arming people with this type of power is not how we maintain freedom for us and future generations to enjoy. I love this country and the principles upon which it is founded, and hate to see current leaders chipping away at those principles every day.
I honestly don't care which side Mick took when posting the story, it can still be seen that police officers are being armed with the capability of seeing people's personal information whenever they want to. What is keeping them from doing so? Maybe they promised the police chief "I will be good."

If you want to keep freedom, vote against those who are taking it away in the name of "security."

By KOOLTIME on 4/22/2011 6:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
Oh no offysa i wuz not chattin on me cell phone n drivin at'all.

Other then that, to obtain a driving while cell use law breakers, texting history or call history, thier is no need for police to obtain a persons cell phone data. Also unless the crime is very severe aka murder or terrorism suspects which case they would take any and all info about a person and seize it.

Need to make clear laws that indicate the phone has evidential data in relation to why the person is being arrested in the 1st place to obtain its contents. AN limited to the case. Getting call history for a texting n driving case fine, but taking their family photos in the process is not relevant data to be obtained and privacy breach, of whom this person has contacts with.

This is funny for all us "Old Folks"
By tng on 4/23/2011 10:31:17 AM , Rating: 2
I have to laugh at allot of peoples comments here about how to secure data on their smart phones.

How about just get the most basic phone that you can get? What good is it to police if you just have a phone that is NOT GPS enabled? Doesn't have a history of all the web sites you have recently visited? Doesn't have a link that gives them direct access to all of your banking info? No list of all the texts that you have sent and received? ETC.....

Forget smart phones, get something simple, memorize your numbers and wipe the call log often. Don't give them anything if you get pulled over. If you have a smart phone leave it at home. Besides, don't you get tired of paying $80+ every month to your carrier for the service?

Lol Privacy
By Xietsu on 4/24/2011 12:53:56 AM , Rating: 2
Lol @ privacy when the NSA is essentially filtering all teh goods anyways.

LifeLog/Total Information Awareness: DARPA/Pentagon -

An overview of the NSA's domestic spying program -

Worth looking into
By YashBudini on 4/28/2011 3:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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