Met Police uses 'quick' mobile data extraction system against suspects

Met Police uses 'quick' mobile data extraction system against suspects

Police will have immediate access to data on handset

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The Metropolitan Police has rolled out a mobile device data extraction system to allow officers to extract data "within minutes" from suspects' phones while they are in custody.

The capability would be particularly useful if the police force were to face a similar situation to the riots last August, which were reportedly coordinated mainly via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). At the time, there appeared to be confusion around whether or not police could access the data from rioters’ phones, although BlackBerry owner RIM promised to co-operate fully with the police.

The new system being used by the Met is Radio Tactics' ACESO data extraction system across 16 boroughs in the capital.

Ostensibly, the system has been deployed to target phones that are suspected of having actually been used in criminal activity, although data privacy campaigners may focus on potentially wider use.

The deployment is expected to substantially reduce the costs associated with traditional, outsourced methods of processing evidence, which can lead to months of delays, particularly for "low level criminal cases", said the Met.

The ACESO kiosk data extraction system comprises of an intuitive, fully-guided touchscreen desktop data acquisition tool, and will be used by dedicated officers responsible for tackling street crime and burglary.

"Mobile phones and other devices are increasingly being used in all levels of criminal activity," said Stephen Kavanagh, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

"When a suspect is arrested and found with a mobile phone that we suspect may have been used in crime, traditionally we submit it to our digital forensic laboratory for analysis."

Kavanagh said the new system located within the boroughs themselves will enable "trained officers to examine devices and gives immediate access to the data in that handset".

He said: "Our ability to act on forensically-sound, time-critical information, from SMS to images contained on a device quickly gives us an advantage in combating crime, notably in terms of identifying people of interest quickly and progressing cases more efficiently."

Around 300 Met officers will be trained to use the system. It is not clear at this stage as to what will happen to the extracted data off a suspect's mobile if he or she is not charged with an offence after being arrested.

Last month a member of Metropolitan Police staff pleaded guilty  to the theft of stolen property, including mobile phones, Apple iPods and satellite navigation systems.

Some of the stolen electrical goods contained personal data, the Met said. It insisted however that the force has "rigorous" procedures in place to protect the security of information.

"All staff and officers are given clear instructions and training on the requirement to adhere to the Metropolitan Police security, DPA (Data Protection Act) and FOIA (Freedom of Information) policy at all times, and to ensure any breaches of security are reported," a Met spokesperson said.

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  • Brett Patterson How is that a solution Law-abiding citizens are subject to these searches
  • Paleoflatus Ive got a great solution Just dont break the law
  • Colphi Yes
  • Colphi British police have been extracting data from prisoners phones for at least 5 years All data including deleted can be recovered All passwords can also be bypassed
  • The Doctor Id go so far as to say get a burner phone while youre there and put nothing youd rather not fall into the wrong hands on it
  • The Doctor Not common right now The state of crypto software on mobile phones is still not terribly advanced There are encrypted password managers out there some good some terrible and encrypted notepad apps which dont see a whole lot of use but nothing to encrypt everything else on the phone contacts stored messages et cetera In a similar vein encrypting the removable storage cards on mobiles isnt very advanced - LUKS for Android has just gotten stable but isnt seeing a whole lot of use yet
  • Encrypted Hit the encrypt button before visiting UK
  • Don Clark Sounds like someone needs to develop 2 separate apps A 1-click app that wipes the phone Another app that can restore the phone based upon last sync requires loginpassword to enable sync
  • Stuart Friedman In response to what Go Blue has said I agree about the issue of abuse US cops routinely seek seek permission to impound and search a persons computers and data devices in just about every investigation that they seek a search warrant There is no attempt to limit the search to issues of a particular case and they just troll through all the persons personal data The same limitations should be put on a digital search as a brick and mortar search
  • Brett With cloud services linking from smartphones through the cloud to the users data in the cloud and their home or office computers could this mean the police effectively have access to search files in the home when they do this
  • weedenbc The ability to do this depends heavily on the phone Some phones have little to no protection early iPhone passcodes only locked the UI no encryption Other have good protection but can be bypassed using software vulnerabilities some of the same ones that are used for jailbreaking As a general rule the more modern the phone the more secure it can be iPhone 4S security is leaps and bounds better than iPhone 3
  • Hash Brown Bannana Boat what about encrypted phones
  • Go Blue The Michigan State Police have been using these for a while now Allowing law enforcement officers such convenient access to citizens private data grants them enormous power undeniably ripe for abuse
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