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News

US Court Ruling Brings Powers To Search Mobile Phone Content

AccessData : 10 January, 2011  (Technical Article)
Search and acquisition of mobile phone content by arresting officers without warrant is now legal in California after court ruling
This week the California Supreme Court ruled that arresting officers, without a warrant, may search the contents of a cell phone taken from a suspect during arrest stating, “lawful custodial arrest justifies the infringement of any privacy interest the arrestee may have in property immediately associated with his or her person at the time of arrest,” and that, "…this… 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."



The court’s 5-2 decision in People v. Diaz (No. S166600, January 3, 2010) extends to all content held on a mobile or smart phone and specifically renounces the idea that the amount or type of data makes a cell phone somehow different from any other object found on or near an arrestee’s person.



Incidentally, AccessData recently released Mobile Phone Examiner Plus (MPE+) 4.1, which is available on a field tablet. This product allows arresting officers to instantly search and collect all data on a cellular phone while in the field. MPE+ 4.1 is uniquely designed to let arresting officers take full advantage of the Diaz decision.



The software-only solution and the field-ready tablet can unlock locked phones and give law enforcement instant access to the call history, contacts, text messages, photos, voice recordings, video files, calendar entries, tasks, notes, address book, Web browsing history, chat logs, data stored in applications (including social media applications), search history and any data from location-enabled services or applications--allowing police to construct an arrestee's past whereabouts and activities.



The program supports more than 2500 phones, including 80% of CDMA phones, such as Blackberry, iPad and iPhone 4. The end result of an MPE+ investigation is a forensically sound, clean copy of the data and a quick print or PDF view that gives officers the ability to make on-scene decisions.



“If the Diaz decision gives arresting officers permission to search cell phones, then MPE+ gives them the tools they need to do so quickly and effectively,” said AccessData CEO, Tim Leehealey.



MPE+ is available as a field-ready tablet or as a software-only solution and is virtually instantly deployable. It integrates with the industry-standard computer forensics software, Forensic Toolkit (FTK), allowing law enforcement to perform advanced analysis and correlate data from multiple phones and computers within a single interface.
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