Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CelleBrite UFED: ACLU and Others Want Information, Worried About Civil Liberties

Slashdot has basic information about this newest invasion of privacy aimed at communication devices we commonly know as "Cellphones", "I-Phones" and "Smartphones". This newest law enforcement gadget is called CellBrite UFED.

The ACLU is quoted on record as saying: "The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.

"Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide," ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. "No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure."

Sources: Slashdot and closes the article with this statement: "The national ACLU is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security for its policy of warrantless electronic searches of laptops and cell phones belonging to people entering the country who are not suspected of committing any crime."

Here is the PDF Copy of the ACLU Letter directly from the ACLU at their website.  

Attorney Wayne Logan of the Florida State University speaks at Popular Mechanics about the application and limitations of the 4th Amendment in these types of cases.

Findlaw for Legal Professionals has a link to the fourth amendment.

You will also find a history and scope of the 4th Amendment at this link

A copy of the U.S. Constitution can be found here.

This newest development poses an interesting, yet, odd situation for United States Licensed Radio Amateurs because today's phones can double as an amateur station by way of the use of Echolink and other RF linking software. As a way to avoid Michigan State Police searches of your phone when you are NOT suspected of a crime, Shortwave America UNOFFICIALLY suggests Michigan radio amateurs to have Echolink or other RF LINKING software running at all times while you are in your car or out in public as a way to legitimately, legally, say that your phone is actually an amateur radio transceiver because you are using it as such at the time of contact with the Michigan State Police. 

P.R. 91-36 is a good protection in this type of case because it is assumed within reason that your phone, while being used as an amateur station, may possibly have access to public safety, special emergency, or other frequencies. IF MSP were then to search/confiscate the phone in the wrong context (without probable cause) and without a search warrant, they would have presumably violated a FEDERAL ORDER. ONLY the FCC can interfere with amateur radio operations or seize an amateur station pursuant to Part 97 and other Federal Regulations having the same effect / affect as law. 

General searches are outlawed by fact of your fourth amendment rights. 

The above IS NOT legal advice and should never be construed as such. This is simply educated thinking within a reasonable scope.

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